HEREAFTER

There's a reason why Clint Eastwood invokes Dickens in his quiet,
meditative movie about death. Like Chuck, Clint here creates a full
compliment of well-limned characters in an emotionally-direct,
melodramatic tale with multiple plotlines and a big theme. HEREAFTER
carries you along so far that when it sputters so surprisingly at the
end, you're almost prepared to forgive. Unlike life (and death) this
movie is a journey without a destination. Eastwood marries his
craftsmanship to his humanism and until the last few minutes makes
hardly a single misstep. When has Matt Damon ever been better? His
gentle, lovely underacting is crucial to making the hard-to-believe
believable. But ultimately, the entire film feels like a broad-canvas
set-up for a conclusion that never comes. The blessing/curse that
Damon wrestles with throughout is merely dropped, and even that is not
fully explained, since all of the “readings” that Matt gives seem to
end with the dead telling the living to Have a Nice Day (or at least
to forgive them). I would love to have sat in on the story conferences
as the filmmakers decided (debated?) how to wrap things up. — Jeff
Schultz

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