Thursday, October 28, 2010

HEREAFTER; Clint Eastwood's Gentle Masterwork


I took a few hours away from the slings and arrows of political discourse last night to check out the latest film from filmmaker and legendary movie star Clint Eastwood, who with Martin Scorsese are the two directors who's work never disappoints me. Hereafter is probably the most understated yet elegant film director Eastwood has ever made; who knew that the man who once played The Man With No Name and Dirty Harry as a younger man who become a filmmaker of range and depth probably not seen since John Huston?

Lately I've been thinking a lot about mortality, and for lack of a better word, fate. I was present at the New Meadowlands Stadium on the day Rutgers player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed after making a tackle. I couldn't help but think for days afterward "what if?"

What if the Army kick returner headed for the sidelines instead of attempting to run across the field? Or if Eric slowed down for a second while running towards the return man, or if someone even minimally blocked Eric? If any of those things would have occurred, perhaps Eric LeGrand would have never had that fateful mishap that changed his life forever.

Mortality, the fragility of life, and chance are some of the themes we see in Hereafter. There are "what if's?" in abundance. What if we we were in a certain place at a certain fateful time instead of a loved one who died after taking our place, or if we made a decision that fatefully put us in harm's way, and for some reason we lived while others did not?

And what if death is not the end, but only the start of something we cannot fathom?

This film will have you trying to find answers for the questions it asks, but it will leave it to the viewer themselves to look for those answers. As main character George Lonegan, a psychic played by Matt Damon, informs us in the film he doesn't know what happens next, he just listens to those who've passed on and hears their voices, and passes on messages to those left behind.

Peter Morgan's script tells three separate but parallel stories that will intersect in time. Marie LeLay (Cecile De France) is a French television journalist who is enjoying a Pacific vacation with her producer- boyfriend Didier (Thierry Neuvic) when a tsunami destroys the island and kills thousands. Marie almost drowns, and stops breathing after attempts to resuscitate apparently fail. She goes into a netherworld temporarily inhabited by shadowy figures, but then she is pulled back to consciousness...and to life. Marie and Didier return to Paris (the French scenes, at least one quarter of the film, are in French with subtitles), but Marie sems haunted and distant after her near death experience. She soon decides to try and find out....what happens when we die?

Across the English Channel in London, two children, twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) spend much of their time looking out for their well meaning but destructively alcoholic mother Jackie (Lyndsey Marshal). Always one step ahead of the social services officers, the boys are extremely close, with Jason being the outgoing leader and Marcus the quiet follower. One fateful day one of the boys loses his life, leaving the other to care for Jackie, and himself. The surviving twin goes on a quest to talk to his brother just more time.

And in San Franciso George Lonegan (Damon) toils away in a sugar factory, seemingly hiding from the world. George is a psychic who finds his gift to be curse; merely touching someone he can feel the spirits of those close to that person. George cannot reconcile a life based on the ability to talk with the dead; he was once a famous person who had books written about him, but now has turned his back on that life, even after the appeals of his younger brother Billy (Jay Mohr) to cash in on his psychic abilities..

George takes a cooking class at night, where he's paired up with a lovely newcomer to San Francisco, Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard). In the weeks that follow they become close, to the point of a budding romance. Melanie does have a deep, dark, and hurtful secret in her past, and at first she knows nothing of George's past profession. But chance....or fate.... intervene in an encounter in George's apartment after class. And their relationship changes forever.

While watching this movie I kept thinking...."How are these stories going to intersect?". I won't spoil your fun about figuring out how the three stories come together, but the clues are there almost from the start.

Let's just say that British actor Derek Jacobi (playing himself) plays an important role in the weaving of the tale. And so does a famous author from another century who wrote about a ghost who visited the meanest man in town.......HUMBUG!

A couple of familiar faces from TV are in the film along with Jay Mohr (SNL, GARY UNMARRIED, and of course, GHOST WHISPERER); Richard Kind (SPIN CITY and MAD ABOUT YOU), and Steven R. Schirripa (I almost yelled out "it's Bobby Baccala from THE SOPRANOS!") were featured in memorable supporting roles.

Eastwood also produced the film (and wrote it's musical score), along with Kathleen Kennedy and Robert Lorenz, and executive producers Frank Marshall, Tim Moore, Peter Morgan, and Steven Speilberg.

I recommend this film, and I must say, it's good to start seeing movies for grownups again, where special effects enhance the film and not dominate it. No amount of technical wizardry can ever take the place of a great script, good acting, and a master directing the action.

Hereafter is worth your time, and your attention- not to mention your $10.50.

And to paraphrase a popular commercial....trust me; I DRINK Dr. Pepper.


1 comment:

Hereafter movie said...

thank you for the professional review and for posting the trailer. definitly make me want to watch the movie. thanks!

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