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October 26th, 2014

Hereafter Movie Review

Hereafter Movie ReviewTake a second and think about all the things that you can accomplish in a span of two hours. Now think about trading all that productivity in to sit in a theater and watch a movie. The redeeming factor of movies is the feeling of being entertained and to escape day to day headaches, so losing out on a couple hours of productivity isn’t always a total loss, unless of course you go out to see a film like HEREAFTER, in which case you’re giving up your valuable time to have a talented filmmaker present material so dull and lifeless you’d just as well sit at home and watch static on your television.

HEREAFTER is the story of a French newswoman who has visions of the afterlife after nearly being killed in a tsunami, a former psychic that traded in fortune and fame for a thankless blue collar factory job, and a young boy in London whose brother is killed in a car accident and struggles with life after the incident. Each character deals with death in their lives in different ways, and view death with three very different points of view, fascination, resentment, and sadness.

The synopsis is simple, and has the possibility of being fascinating and entertaining, but sadly it simply falls incredibly flat. The film kicks off with a spectacular disaster sequence of a tsunami causing incredible destruction through a village. At that moment I was pretty excited at what might be in store for the rest of the film, since I knew very little about it upon sitting down to watch it. The following two hours after that first five to ten minutes was some of the effective yawn inducing cinema I’ve seen in quite some time.

The most I can say for the performances is that they are adequate for what the film is. There isn’t a single stand out performance to be had, nothing that makes a certain scene stand out or improve the film at any level. I cannot commend any of the actors and actresses on their efforts because it feels like they, along with me, were very close to nodding off at any second. Matt Damon has some of the only halfway enjoyable scenes involving an Italian cooking class in which he’s partnered with a young chatty woman looking to make some new friends. The scene where one of the partners is blindfolded and the other feeds them and they guess what they’ve just ate has moments of charming humor. The young boy struggling with the loss of his brother also has some extremely brief endearing qualities, but only because of the child’s situation, his performance isn’t a breakthrough and all feels rushed. That is part of the problem, for as long and boring as the film is, the storylines all progress over a year’s time and the characters feel incomplete and extremely two dimensional. It is extremely hard to care about any of their plights.

I more than realize the caliber of director that Clint Eastwood is, so I can’t say completely that there wasn’t a single aspect here to enjoy. The film looks very good; the opening tsunami is done extremely well, it induced a feeling of dread and peril and definitely kicked the film off with a bang, so clearly Eastwood knows how important it is to get the audience’s attention right off the bat. At the same time, maybe that’s the biggest crime of the film, it starts off so spectacularly and you are presented to nothing near as grand for the rest of the film. Eastwood presents the next two hours that jump around at several points, not saying how much time has passed except for a few lines here and there that tell you a year or a few weeks have passed, it gives the impression that the film is very unfocused. The structure doesn’t give us enough time to build a connection with any of the characters. Eastwood tries to fit so much into the film that it starts to seem obvious there is so much left out. With Damon’s character the Italian cooking class becomes a prominent thing in his character’s life then just disappears, we don’t even know if he ever wins the cooking competition that they talked about several times. The French newswoman goes from doing a book about a political figure to writing three chapters of a book about afterlife to having a finished and published book in no time whatsoever. The little boy from London disappears from his foster parents and child services actually advise not to call the police, he narrowly escapes a brush with death and visits with several psychics to talk to his dead brother. The film touches on so much in such a quick amount of time that instead of being entertaining it basically is seen then forgotten almost instantly. I have one last brief and vague comment about the little boy from London though, and it’s that Eastwood really wanted to make this poor kid suffer; there was hardly a good thing to come out of that whole storyline.

For a film about death and its different effects on us HEREAFTER is dark and depressing, but for all the wrong reasons. After a grand opening the film hits a wall and drags for the remaining two hour runtime. Eastwood is a very influential and talented director, but there likely won’t be another film to come along this year with so little to offer. Wooden performances and a dull unfocused story make for an extremely wasteful night out to the movies; the only way it could have been worse is if it was in 3D.




16 Comments


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  2. Atrios

    Hereafter isone of the best movies I have seen in years. It is very thought provoking at multiple levels, delving into the nature of compassion, authenticity vs. the unexamined life, the roles of chance, human will, and sychronicity. I was deeply moved by this movie.You just don’t get it. You don’t seem have enough life experience to even grasp the point of this movie, yet fancy yourself qualified to comment on it as you apply your nightly clearasil.


  3. Stargazer

    Atrios, did you see the same Matt Damon/Clint Eastwood “Hereafter” that I saw? It was one of the most boring and least entertaining films I have ever watched. I am a Movie Checker and audit films in movie theaters most weekends so I get to see a LOT of movies every year (a LOT). I honestly can’t remember ever wishing for a movie to hurry up and end like I did while watching this film. I completely agree with the reviewer, Luke, on his negative review of this film. I admire both Clint Eastwood and Matt Damon but for the first time (ever), I actually dozed off in a theater while watching a film. Perhaps I expected much better from them…?


    • jaslaw

      I don’t know what movie you were, or weren’t paying attention to, but this was not a boring picture. It wasn’t full of thrills and immature entertainment, but dealt with life. No not every movie is an opportunity escape for two hours, which I often enjoy doing, this one was an opportunity to engage life and the realities of life and death. The images and insights will stay with me far longer than even good entertainment-only movies. Kudos to Clint Eastwood for taking a serious issue seriously. Kudos to Mat Damon who proved that he can do a ‘real person as well as a programmed machine. I took it as an indication of his maturing as an actor. Kudos to Cecile de France for playing the sometimes beautiful and sometimes unattractive character who struggles with real questions right in front of us. If all of this was boring, Stargazer, you must be really bored with life–both inside and outside of the movie theater.


  4. Bsbootsy

    Here’s my vote for reviewer Luke and Stargazer. Yesterday afternoon was wasted with this interminably slow-moving pix. Several viewers actually left the theater about 20 – 30 minutes into it (which actually felt like 20 or 30 days). I watched this bomb with a female friend and we were in total agreement that if we ever in real life came across a young woman as insipid as Damon’s cooking class partner, we would shoot her just to put her out of her non-existence. I can’t decide who to blame more; the writer or the editor. Mr. Eastwood took what I feel is a riveting subject and subjected it to an agonizing endurance contest by the audience to see who could last to its conclusion. Mr. Eastwood is one of the greatest cinematic contributors in my lifetime, but how he got from Dirty Harry to this piece of long lasting stench, is beyond me. All involved are forgiven. Yea, movies. bsbootsy


  5. Sylmjk

    It sounds like the initial rreviewer prefers action movies, which obviously other than the tsunami, this isn’t. I saw the movie because it was Eastwood directed and starring Matt Damon. I didn’t know quite what to expect, which allowed me to enjoy this movie very much. The character development was top notch. This is a wonderful movie. It did have some slow spots, but the way everything comes together evidences a well written script in the hands of a master director. Maybe next time he’ll make a movie, unlike all the others out there, out drg dealers, car thieves, and cops with guns and crashes and revert to what is often considered “entertainment.” Hereafter is more than that, it is thought provoking and I am not even into that psychic stuff.


  6. I have read reviews from various sites complaining (copulously) about this film. I even questioned whether or not to spend $19 to see it, given the mixed reviews. I am glad I did. Many who complained about this movie went to see Matt Damon in a Bourne experience: this is not it. This is not an action adventure film, nor is it “plot aimless” as others suggest. It is a well weaved story of three lives struggling to understand life they are faced with, with the advent of death that they have encountered. Eventually, they meet in London, work out issues with each other. People find this hard to understand this kind of movie, would also have problems with repertory theater movies of the 1960-70’s as they are slow and deliberate.

    This movie isn’t about going to escape reality for 2 hours, nor is it a lecture on near death experience. This is a human story about the pain that many people experience touched with death in their lives, some true comments about those who have studied near death experience, as well as some of the fakery that still exists with meduimship that can take advantage of those grieving. Not all mediums are the real deal as we can all attest, but some wrestle with the questions that Matt Damon explored in this movie about what they do, why they do it, and the result that if you are good, people begin to avoid you as friends, lovers, etc.

    This movie is a throw back to those movies shown in small movie houses where people go to learn, think and grow…not just be entertained. BTW, Clint did the music through out on the Spanish guitar, which also gives the true speed of the movie, laid back and not in a hurry to give a message. Go and watch it to think about life and those who matter in yours. This is NOT an easy movie for anyone who has reciently lost a loved one, just to note.


  7. ll

    This comment is about Luke’s review. I think that in order to review or furthermore criticize anyone, a reviewer needs to reach the level of the “reviewee” first. Otherwise, he will never be able to get the point. Very few people understnd greatness simply because they are far away from that spiritual level. They can admire it, feel below it or above it, it doesn’t matter, but they can’t understand it. Same with Luke’s review – what difference does it make if Matt Damon’s character won the cooking contest? It is completely irrelevant. It is not the goal, but a journey that matters. This movie is about journeys of different people. Anyone who knows that we come to this Earth in physical bodies only for a short time, and the soul lives forever, will say that this movie is great, to say the least, just Clint Eastwood is.


  8. Horrible movie! A complete waste of time. Whats really sad is that people will watch this and think it is the truth. The only redeming moment in the whole movie was when the boy was on the internet and came across the man talking about Jesus.


  9. Carolyn

    Luke (whoever you are). The movie wasn’t a wast of your valuable time at all, but it does appear it WAS pretty much wasted on you. Oh well, to each his own.


  10. Sangoma

    Luke, genius review.


  11. Benmilne1

    Dear Clint Eastwood, The impending certainty of your own passage into the “after life” should be no excuse for subjecting us to 150 minutes where we, your paying audience, are literally begging to be pulled back from the dead. You have managed to blend the worst of acting and a dreadful script seamlessly with cinematography from a D.O.P who was so unimaginably boring that we may be forgiven for thinking he is no longer of this world. Please send me my money back. Unless… Wait a minute….maybe he was trying to show us a glimpse of what hell feels like…. Why the man’s a genius! 


  12. Levon Gabrielian

    “Hearafter” is just a masterpiece! People nowadays are getting more and more stupid and
    dehumanized and that’s the only reason that they don’t understand this movie. I am not surprised
    that a lot of people didn’t like this movie which proves even more that it’s a piece of art; how many percent of the society likes classical music and how many pop or something else. This is the ratio for the “Hereafter”! Clint Eastwood made an absolute genius work; a movie – for those who have eyes to see, brain to think, and heart to feel.


  13. Adam Peci

    Loved the movie. Sat between two friends, one of whom dozed off twice, the other said he was 80% impressed. Two young people in the front row left the cinema 2/3 of the way through….not enough tsunami factor. Eastwood gets it right – this is a film about people, relationships and questions, and finding a pattern in an often chaotic life with violent interludes. It is interesting to see how divided the reviews are and to wonder why. In the film, there is also a division between likeable characters, those that like Matt Damon and Cecile, who are sensitive to others, and those who are insensitive and sometimes selfish, like the brother and the French boyfriend. The suspense for me was waiting to see how he brought the separate stories together and how he was going to resolve it at the end. Everything distils ultimately to making genuine connections. Can’t wait for his next film.


  14. Gian

    If there is a waste of time in this life is is not certainly watching this movie! THE WASTE OF TIME AND SPACE ARE THE MANY IGNORANT PEOPLE THAT ARE GIVEN A LIFE IN THIS UNIVERSE such as this useless reviewer and the other detractors that live a life of lies, falsity and darkness!
    Here is someone trying to open the door to a possibility and ……THE MOTHER OF CRETINS IS ALWAYS PREGNANT isn’t Mr Grand Rreviewer and Co.



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