Hereafter (2010)

Life Lessons

If his performance in 2008’s Gran Torino was Clint Eastwood reflecting on his career, then Hereafter must surely be the 80-year-old filmmaker’s musings on what might come next. He clearly felt a deep connection with Peter Morgan’s screenplay, as he lets the story unfurl in an unhurried, at times ponderous, pace.

The film opens with a jaw-dropping Tsunami, which forever changes the life of French journalist Marie LeLay (De France). Barely surviving the ordeal Marie finds herself having visions which lead her to seek answers. Similarly, London schoolboy Marcus (played by both Frankie and George McLaren) feels compelled to investigate the afterlife after his twin brother is killed in an accident. And the one person who may be able to help them both is American psychic George Lonegan (Damon), but the negative impact of his gift leaves him reluctant to embrace it.

Sensibly concentrating on the reasons why people search for answers than offering up any concrete theories as to what happens when we die—other than suggesting that something misty awaits us, whatever our beliefs or behaviour—Hereafter must be applauded for tackling such a universal mystery head on. It’s not entirely successful, however; some elements of Morgan’s screenplay are awkwardly contrived, while the narrative is weighed down by its own gravitas. And while performances by De France, Damon and McLaren lend some sparkle, given the strength of the talent involved Hereafter is, ultimately, a disappointment.

3 stars

This review was originally published in movieScope 20, where you’ll also find interviews with the film’s screenwriter Peter Morgan and digital colourist Jill Bogdanowicz

Clint Eastwood
Stars Matt Damon, Cecile De France, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren
Screenplay Peter Morgan
Certificate 12A
Distributor Warner Bros
Running Time 2hrs 9mins
Opens January 28

Blue Valentine (2010)


Hollywood may be the home of the happy ending, but America’s independent landscape has proved to be the habitat of braver, more brutal truths. In the case of Blue Valentine, those truths concern the darker side of love; namely that it doesn’t necessarily last forever, and that it can be as ugly as it is beautiful. But while this idea may be a rarity in modern cinema, it certainly makes for an intriguing and involving film.

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Tetro (2009)

The Brothers Gloom

When 17-year-old Bennie (Alden Ehrenreich) arrives in Buenos Aires in search of his long lost brother, he is surprised to find that the man he remembers as a passionate, creative writer now cuts a melancholy and isolated figure who has re-christened himself Tetro (Vincent Gallo). Although Tetro’s girlfriend Miranda (Maribel Verdu) welcomes Bennie with open arms, Tetro is less than pleased to have his sibling back in his life. As Bennie digs deeper into why Tetro left the family, it becomes clear that there are painful secrets buried in their shared past. And when Bennie finds, and decides to finish, Tetro’s deeply personal play, their relationship takes a turn from which there may be no coming back.

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