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HEREAFTER

HEREAFTER-13

You can watch the trailer here

When you hear the name Clint Eastwood, you immediately think of quality cinema. Whether you're pondering his roles in countless Westerns or as the iconic Harry Callahan, or you're thinking about his numerous directorial features, you can easily come up with some of the greatest movies ever made. He has proven himself on both sides of the camera, and every ounce of respect he receives he has dutifully earned. That's why it is, with a heavy heart, that I must write this review for his newest film, Hereafter.

I should have seen it coming - his last two films (2008's Gran Torino and 2009's Invictus) left me with quite a bit of want. I had issues with the acting decisions in Gran Torino, and while Invictus was very good, it just left something to be desired, and I couldn't quite put my finger on just what that was. Still, I held out some hope that Hereafter could be good, despite the mixed critical response it has thus far received.

Let's go with the storyline. We're following three characters: a French television journalist and tsunami survivor (Cécile De France); a no-longer-practicing psychic with true ability (Matt Damon); and a young boy who loses his twin brother (dually played by Frankie and George McLaren). Each character has been touched in some way by death, and each is trying to deal with that in their own way. Eventually, their paths intertwine, and the rest, as they say, is history.

On paper, this very well could have been a fantastic success. However, not every idea can be transferred well into a movie. It took me a little bit of thought to figure out where the problem lied here, but I think I got it: it tried way too hard to pack as much emotion into everything in the film. Obviously, with the subject matter, we can assume that things are going to get a little bit emotional, but it seemed as though Eastwood was trying to force the emotions onto the audience. It was heavy-handed and slow, and I just didn't feel a thing for any of the characters. I understand that they were going through some terrible situations, but I felt absolutely nothing, and I'm a pretty emotional guy when it comes to the movies.

In terms of acting, I can't really complain. The performances are good, especially from Damon and De France, but it's definitely nothing spectacular or Oscar-worthy. However, Bryce Dallas Howard did surprise me in a very limited role, and I was left hoping to see her again in the film. Sadly, her character departed abruptly, and I lost all connection to the movie whatsoever.

Were Eastwood not as successful as he is, I don't think he could have made this movie. It's one of those films that you can only make after you've established yourself as a directing force (See: Christopher Nolan's Inception or the Coen brothers' Burn After Reading). Unfortunately, Hereafter did not play out to what Eastwood probably assumed it could be.

Movie Review Summary:Grade: C-
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