The Clint Eastwood-Peter Morgan collaboration Hereafter, which involves metaphysical questions and narrative coincidences and convergences, sounds like something Alejandro González Iñárritu would direct from a screenplay by Guillermo Arriaga. Or perhaps something that Fatih Akin would write and direct inspired by González Iñárritu and Arriaga’s oeuvre.
Starring Matt Damon, Cécile de France, Bryce Dallas Howard, George McLaren, Lyndsey Marshal, Marthe Keller, and Jay Mohr, Hereafter follows several people who have faced death – their own (this isn’t a typo) or somebody else’s – and have been profoundly changed because of it.
Reviews coming out of the Toronto Film Festival have been mixed. Some have praised the unusual drama and Eastwood’s low-key handling of the material; others have complained that Hereafter lacks the depth the film’s theme commands.
Hereafter will close the New York Film Festival. It opens in the US on Oct. 22.
Clint Eastwood tackles our connections to the afterlife but doesn’t appear to have much to say about it in Hereafter. It’s also misleading that this is being marketed as a supernatural chiller: there are few thrills in Eastwood’s essentially modest meditation on the impact of death on the lives of three very different people. What jolts there are come mostly in a terrifying opening stretch that sees French television news anchor Marie (Cécile De France) holidaying in south-east Asia with her boss/lover, swept up in a tsunami and enduring a near-death experience that irrevocably changes her.
Matt Mueller, The Guardian.
Those looking for answers to life, in the now and the later, best look elsewhere than Clint Eastwood’s ‘Hereafter’. Those looking for questions would be better served making their own list and checking it twice for this film can barely muster up the time to send us home with anything to think about, other than how one of the world’s most celebrated directors can team up with one of the most interesting writers of recent years and produce such a unchallenging dullard.
Erik Childress, Cinematical.
The movie will divide some Eastwood fans, conquer others. The naysayers will be grateful that, from this healthy, workaholic actor-director, there is always the promise of a good movie — if not here, then hereafter. But if you go with his new picture’s slow flow, and stick around for its rapturous resolution, you’ll see this as a summing up, a final testament of so many Clint characters, from The Man with No Name to Dirty Harry, from Million Dollar Baby‘s Frankie Dunn to Gran Torino‘s Walt Kowalski, for all of whom facing down death was a natural part of life.
Richard Corliss, Time.
One would expect such subjects as mortality and the afterlife would mean a contemplative, even moody piece. But Morgan has planted a sense of immediacy within these international stories about three people searching for answers. Strange as it sounds, the film reminds a little of old Claude Lelouch movies – and not just because Marthe Keller, looking wonderful, shows up in one sequence …
Even with all this, the ending is a letdown. It’s too facile, too … well, Lelouch, as a matter of fact. One wants a film dealing with the ultimate metaphysical issue to end on a more profound note than the finish Morgan comes up with. However, it certainly will give audiences something to debate on the way home.
Kirk Honeycutt, The Hollywood Reporter.
Regardless of what you may have heard elsewhere, this is definitely not Eastwood’s worst film to date. It’s oddly compelling, and will keep you watching. That’s the biggest compliment I can give the film, as it doesn’t offer anything more. And for a movie directed by Academy Award-winning Eastwood, written by Peter Morgan, the Academy Award nominated writer of The Queen, Frost/Nixon, and starring Matt Damon and Bryce Dallas Howard, you might be expecting a lot more.
Peter Sciretta at /Film.
Photo: Warner Bros.