Hereafter is a Clint Eastwood movie that doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. It doesn’t lead you in the pretense of it being a deep philosophical movie about our existence and what comes after we stop existing on Earth, etc.
The opening scene of the movie is movie-making at its best. If you’re not hooked on this when the first scene ends, then you must rewatch it.
The movie follows the lives of three characters. Cecile De France portrays Mary Lelay, a French journalist, had a close call with death while on a trip and is still haunted by what she went through. Marcus, a British teenager, loses his identical twin brother. George Lonegan (Matt Damon) doesn’t see dead people, but he can communicate with them, much to his discomfort. It’s a “gift” he decides not to use anymore, but eventually he comes to learn that you can’t escape it. Why? because everyone seeks answers.
The movie does not rely on twists and intricate plot details as much as it relies on character development. Whenever Eastwood jumps in location, you don’t feel disconnect with the characters, you delve into their story immediately and pick up where you had left them.
The performances are top-notch. Matt Damon invites you into his character and opens up his vulnerabilities for you to see. His need of belonging is very clear. There is one particular scene which involves tasting food while being blind-folded that shows how much he wants to be a part of something in his life. He has become so introverted that he needs to listen to Charles Dickens audiobooks to sleep.
Marcus, portrayed by one of the McLaren brothers, is so hung up on finding closure for his brother’s death that you are immersed in his sadness. And Cecile De France’s is hell-bent on finding answers and engages you in her quest. She is brought down by looks of people who think she’s out of her mind and her vulnerability clearly shows in such scenes.
Ultimately, Hereafter is not a movie about death as much as it is about life. It doesn’t preach you about the hereafter, but rather, it opens the possibility that something after life might exist, regardless of what it might be. It invites you to live life, live it fruitfully and abundantly.