I’ve always been curious to see Hereafter since its local release was pulled out because of the date’s proximity to the tsunami that hit Japan in 2010. I actually don’t think that it was released at all in the Philippines because of the sensitivity of its content (the beginning portion of the movie deals with a tsunami that devastated Thailand). However, when I finally watched it on DVD, I was rightfully blown away by the understated beauty of the film — a drama that deals with death, rather than the disaster movie I expected.
Clint Eastwood takes the director’s seat for this film which tackles the perspectives of three people who have connected with death in different levels — Matt Damon plays George, a psychic who has chosen to work at a construction company to live a normal life after his fame takes its toll on him. Cecile de France, on the other hand is Marie, a French journalist who almost drowns in the tsunami and begins to experience visions of the afterlife when she survives. Frankie McLaren plays Marcus, who lives with his junkie mother with his twin brother Jason (George McLaren) and is eventually left to deal with the death of his brother after a tragic accident. Their paths cross at a London book fair and together, they find closure about the things that haunt them.
There is no question that the movie is a drama, despite the catastrophes that the lead stars have to go through. What I appreciate most about it is that each story is given its own time to unravel, albeit slowly. Eastwood establishes the backgrounds of the stories, the motivations behind the characters’ actions, and in essence provides the audiences relateable figures that earn their empathy as the film moves forward.
The film is fueled by emotion, which reaches out to the viewers and draws them into the film. The catastrophes bring out shock but the general sense of quiet in the film gives them breathing room to process the issue of their own mortality, which is truly a compelling thing.
The film also succeeds in piquing the viewers curiosity about what lies ahead after people die. And while the film does not give a definite answer, making people think about it at all, is an accomplishment in itself. Hereafter is a movie that understands its own pace and succeeds in telling its stories and making them connect in the end. I thought that it was brilliant. Although it might not appeal to everyone, I really believe it was great.