Monday 31 January 2011

Review: Hereafter

Year: 2010 (2011 U.K Release)
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenplay: Peter Morgan
Starring: Matt Damon, Cecile De France, Byrce Dallas Howard, George & Frankie McLaren,

Synopsis is here

A friend of mine (who lambasted me for liking the polarizing Somewhere despite me telling her that she would hate it) had a facebook status praising Clint Eastwood's latest feature Hereafter. The fact that she actually cried intrigued me as she's not a girly girl. Far from it. In fact one of the reason why we're friends is our deep love for a certain Arsenal F.C (shut it). And while there's many girls who enjoy the professional pigs bladder, my pal isn't what I call a "stereotypical" girl (trying not to Grey and Keys this). She's not one for waterworks and if she is she's not one for telling me.

So imagine my shock that my good friend, whom I've drank many a cider with has fallen for this overlong, overwrought piece of manipulation. It's not that I don't believe in the afterlife. In fact, go ahead! Such subjects are difficult to portray on screen, so I'm always interested in what someones will to try out. However in a film such as this one deals with such subjects what I don't need are cheap shock tactics such as two infamous disasters glossed over, without any tact (that's one more than Remember Me by the way). I also dislike a film which tries to place a hell of a lot of emotional weight on a character so poorly realized by it's child actor that it's slightly embarrassing to watch him emote. What's also frustrating is a film which has moments of interest and yet drowns in one note scenes (the parts in Paris aren't particularly involving) and board moments that are hard pin down as some of the characters just aren't interesting enough to keep one engaged. Eastwood is an old school director who creates simple solid works, here however, I needed more and surprised with how little I got considering it plodding pace and run time.

Yes, I found Hereafter a weak film but as always I do try to look for some good with everything I see. What I liked about Hereafter is the interesting angle that death and/or the afterlife often has believe that pretend to think they know the connection but to those who think they've truly experienced, it feels intensely false to them. Scenes touch on the nasty aspect of selling the afterlife and utilizing false hope. Those moments ring true enough with me not because it's happened to me, but because we see it often then we believe (think Jon Edward and other cold readers). There's also a delicate moment in which Matt Damon's character George; a person who truly sees connections with the afterlife state to another character that he doesn't truly know what's lies beyond. George also doesn't he try to fully grasp what he sees. How can he? This is truly bigger than him. Damon's scene's are the best not only because of this understanding but because Damon is an actor who can disappear into a role better than people like to believe (thanks Parker, Stone and Affleck). Watching how he holds his body throughout the film is the most impressive as it sucks the confidence and pluck that we've seen from him in other features.

I can also forgive the film narrative at points, as it tries deal with coincidence, not logic. Like I said before the film wants to show us that things happen for a reason. Of course as humans we always try to seek out what makes sense. Unfortunately in order to go with these characters you must believe in them and there's just not enough for me. Damon's scenes have the most foundation about them but the other characters are flimsy at best. They don't match up with what Damon brings to the table and I found myself annoyed, frustrated and bored. Cecile De France's performance is flat, while the performances from Frankie and George Mclaren are painful to watch for the wrong reasons. This combined is with the films awkward slump towards the finish line (low key I get but no momentum?) with an brief awkward flash-forward moment which belies some of the more ponderous moments I actually didn't mind.

Eastwood's film follows on from the annoyingly safe Invictus (nice sports movie, naff race movie) as another movie of his I'll not invest any time in another watch. But at least I had something good to say about some of it. My girlfriend hated every minute of it. she's a bit of a girly girl. Different Strokes.