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Frankie McLaren in Hereafter.
Frankie McLaren in Hereafter.

Hereafter

The Clint Eastwood-directed film Hereafter, starring Matt Damon, touches on the subject of life after death.

Hereafter

Director: Clint Eastwood

Starring: Matt Damon, CÚcile de France, Bryce Dallas Howard, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren

Clint Eastwood confounds his granite-faced, all-American macho-man image once again by tackling the big subject of death in this globe-trotting fairy tale.

The fragmented plot and touchy-feely tone are not exactly classic Eastwood, but Hereafter is still a bold and interesting work for an iconic director now in his eighties. The story consists of three parallel plotlines, each unfolding separately until they loosely converge into a tearjerking grand finale.

In one of Eastwood's rare resorts to digital effects, it opens with a spectacular recreation of the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, which sweeps CÚcile de France's Parisienne TV reporter away into an eerie near-death limbo. Meanwhile in London, young twin brothers played by Frankie and George McLaren suffer a series of tragedies culminating in the 2005 terrorist bombings on the Underground. And in San Francisco, Matt Damon's former celebrity psychic shuns fame for factory work, arguing that his powers are more a curse than gift.

Like much of Eastwood's recent output, this feels like a superior TV movie, ploddingly pedestrian in its visual grammar and oddly devoid of dramatic spark. That said, Hereafter is still one of his more intriguing and absorbing late-period efforts.

The story may be groaningly implausible and emotionally manipulative, but it contains richer dramatic textures than Invictus, Gran Torino or The Changeling. As he enters his ninth decade, Eastwood's willingness to step outside his comfort zone remains admirable. The former Man With No Name has become The Man With No Retirement Plans. For that, at least, respect is due.

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