Published at: Oct. 22, 2010, 10:15 a.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
It’s always a shame to see a good idea go south. HEREAFTER is just such a film. It’s not a good movie – it is 1/3 of a good movie, padded by 2/3s filler. The idea is solid – it is the story of three different people, each touched by death, whose stories all come to a head in one another’s company. The problem is that only one of these stories is any good, while the other simply meander through cliché after cliché until ending up serving only tangentially the story you manage to give a shit about. If you can make it through the other two stories, the single story is worth seeing – but they are the very paragons of mediocrity, and will test your will to keep watching with bouts of wistful banality.
The story worth watching this for is Matt Damon’s. Damon plays a psychic spirit medium who is the real deal. The kicker is he hates it. Once upon a time he was a big deal, but he walked away, finding the realm of the dead to be no place for the living. But life doesn’t want to play fair. He can’t have relationships, can’t keep a job, can’t catch a break – and every time things get tough, his fast talking, quick buck brother is there to try and convince him to get back into the medium racket again. This story, every moment of it, is absolutely compelling. It is the tragic tale of a man very good at something that could make him rich when instead he longs only for normalcy.
Damon gives this character all the weight he deserves, nailing the nice guy/simple man vibe while also capably delivering on the moments in which he needs to sell the supernatural. He’s equally met by Bryce Dallas Howard, the sexy, effervescent, girl-with-a-broken heart looking for love in the big city. Watching these two develop before one another’s eyes is exactly the type of filmmaking you expect out of Eastwood.
But then there are the other two stories: one about a young boy who loses a member of his family and of a seasoned reporter who has a near death experience, opening a brand new world to her but sending her career into a spiral. Neither of these work. Of the two only the reporter’s story holds anything worth mentioning: an incredible opening sequence involving a tsunami laying waste to a seaside town. The tsunami is incredible. Not only is it a perfectly executed example of disaster movie magic, it also manages to capture all the emotional beats it needs to in order to drive home the sheer wanton devastation of such an event. Sadly it serves only too set up a story that could have easily been supported by a smaller, more personal tragedy and leaves you wondering why this happened at all. It’s like opening a talking head, bank robbery film with a Michael Bay freeway car chase complete with explosions and a runaway Ferris wheel. An event that big is only truly warranted is the film is about how it affects several people – not one about someone who saw a bright light when they nearly drowned.
It’s not a bad film, but the tedium of the two other stories are liable to lessen the impact of the one you’ll no doubt like. The performances in these stories are great, but what the actors are given to do and say is not. While I love that Eastwood is still working and occasionally churning out something truly great, I really wish he would hire a composer every now and again; his scores are becoming tiresome and blending together. This isn’t the worst Eastwood film in a while; but it is his most middle of the road and forgettable. It’s worth checking out on DVD, but I wouldn’t recommend checking it out in a theater.
Until next time friends,