Hereafter, Matt Damon

Directed by Clint Eastwood. Matt Damon, Cecile de France, Jay Mohr, Bryce Dallas Howard.

A list of stellar filmmakers and wonderful actor Matt Damon still can’t save this dull tale of tragic loss and a belief in the afterlife that never really tells you anything new in any different way.

With Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy and Clint Eastwood on a project you expect stellar stuff. And with a kickass opening scene of a tsunami tearing through a paradise resort island with incredible end-of-world grandeur you wait for events to unfold even though you know separate storylines will eventually merge in the end.

You have a French TV personality Marie (de France) who has a near death experience in the tsunami, then the American George (Damon) who is a genuine psychic but doesn’t want to be anymore because ‘a life about death is just no life at all’ and you have the Brit twins Marcus and the soon-to-be-departed Jason in a broken family with an addict mom. Three individual stories that may just have easily been individual stories since the culmination of their convergence doesn’t really make for a great finale.

All the protagonists are troubled. Marie with her traumatic experience and consequent search for the truth — she ends up losing her job, the man she loves and a lucrative book deal almost falls through. George can’t lead a normal life. He takes up a cookery class, meets a lovely girl who finds out he’s a ‘reader’ and despite his advice against it she gets him to do her (well a psychic reading). He never sees her again. Marcus loses his twin Jason who’s out buying his mother prescription drugs. And then…?

Writer Peter Morgan (The Queen, The Last King Of Scotland. Frost/Nixon) wrote this story after the loss of a close friend. Where did this bright spirit disappear? What becomes of you after death? How do we deal with? The script languished till producer Kennedy referred it to Spielberg who though Eastwood was the man for the job. Unfortunately, there’s not much really to tell apart from end credits that it’s been handled by such veteran and legendary filmmakers. You want to believe that it’ll twist or turn and take you to the end of that tunnel. But alas, there is no light except for a mild resolution for Damon’s character at the end when he can finally ‘touch’ without seeing dead people!

Cecile de France as the TV presenter is beautiful and believable in her search for the truth. Damon’s underplayed performance is passable but you know he’s a finer actor than this. Cohesion is what I think is lacking in this movie. And also a sense of magic. Something to send a chill down your spine or intrigue you. It’s way too simplistic and drab.

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