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Hereafter - Blu-ray Movie Review

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Hereafter Movie Review

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4 stars

At the ripe age of 80, director Clint Eastwood finally gives his audience – after a landmark career of numerous appearances in front of the camera and 31 behind it - some thoughts on what lies beyond this mortal coil in his latest feature, Hereafter.  Call it a romance.  Call it a supernatural thriller.  Call Hereafter whatever you want, just know that Eastwood’s film, based on a screenplay by Peter Morgan, feels anything but American made.  Hereafter, with its grossly involving trinity storyline, feels extremely foreign in structure, tone, and mood.  It’s quite an achievement for a man who got his start in Hollywood – many years ago - doing nothing more American than playing ‘cowboy’ on the set of television’s Rawhide.

Blue-collar worker George Lonegan (Matt Damon) has an ability he doesn’t want.  He can communicate with the dead.  All he has to do is place is hands on a person and his abilities take over.  It’s a curse, he tells us repeatedly; an unwanted skill.  It’s nothing short of a burden especially when he attempts to have a relationship with Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard).    Marie Lelay (Cécile de France), a French news reporter, finds herself oddly affected after surviving a deadly tsunami.  Frankie McLaren (Marcus Marshal) suddenly finds himself without a twin brother after he is killed in a car wreck and attempts to speak to him.  These three characters – including the characters connected to them and their traumatic experiences – eventually become entangled toward the film’s climax, hinging upon Lonegan’s unwanted supernatural abilities.

Don’t let its subject matter fool you, Hereafter is a director’s film; it isn’t solely for those obsessed with what lies beyond.  It’s a bit indulgent at times, playing more for the craft than for its audience.  It also isn’t to be seen for the acting alone – which on its own is sufficient (especially Damon’s performance) – because Hereafter’s slow burn pacing sort of unspools some of the momentum presented by its three leads.  Ultimately, this film, on an artistic note, is solely about the meditative spirit of a certain director’s approach to storytelling.  In fact, Hereafter is so quiet in its approach to the supernatural that you can practically hear Eastwood whispering “action” to his stars.  It is truly a unique experience that might baffle some of its audience members expecting more SUPER in its supernatural element.

With an opening scene that depicts the destructive spirit of a naturally-occurring tsunami, Hereafter might have one of the most disturbing beginnings ever filmed by any director - not just Eastwood.  The danger is immediate and brutal and poignantly realistic – with remarkable special effects provided by Scanline VFX – that absolutely douses the viewer with the rushing water of that gigantic wave.  This might be as visually exciting as Hereafter gets, but it is certainly effective and dynamic in setting the tone of the movie; a moment that stays with the audience long after the film has ended.

Eastwood might continue to use some significantly clichéd B-movie symbols (traits he picked up from his mentors: Don Siegel and Sergio Leone) throughout the journey that is Hereafter, but, much like Gran Torino before it, the film isn’t completely weighed down – at least not for too long - by such obvious contrivances.  It’s a tad disappointing, but – for the careful student of The Man With No Name’s films - typical Eastwood territory.

As mentioned earlier, Eastwood’s film is all about its own composition and, in the hands of longtime Eastwood cinematographer Tom Stern, the picture flickers under a heavenly light that plays with its own romanticism with varying degrees of light and dark tones.  It’s stylistically bleak at times because it isn’t so much concerned about the Here & Now.  It’s what happens after the movie concludes that is important.  Essentially, Hereafter rests its thematic fate in the hands of the audience.

Open-ended as it should be when dealing with matters of an afterlife, Hereafter serves mainly as a starting point for some interesting conversation for those willing to explore what goes unanswered by Eastwood’s film.

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{2jtab: Film Info}

Hereafter - Blu-ray ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language.
Director
: Clint Eastwood
Writer
: Peter Morgan
Cast:
Matt Damon; Dallas Bryce Howard; Jay Mohr; Cécile De France; Thierry Neuvic
Genre: Drama
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
Memorable Movie Quote: "What do you think happens when you die?"
Release Date: October 22, 2010
Blu-ray Release Date:
March 15, 2011

Synopsis: Hereafter tells the story of three people who are haunted by mortality in different ways. Matt Damon stars as George, a blue–collar American who has a special connection to the afterlife. On the other side of the world, Marie (Cécile de France), a French journalist, has a near–death experience that shakes her reality. And when Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren), a London schoolboy, loses the person closest to him, he desperately needs answers. Each on a path in search of the truth, their lives will intersect, forever changed by what they believe might—or must—exist in the hereafter.

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{2jtab: Blu-ray Details}

Hereafter - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades
Movie

Blu-ray Disc
4 stars

4 stars



Blu-ray Experience
4 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - March 15, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles
: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set (1 BD, 1 DVD); Digital copy (on disc); DVD copy

Sumptuous MPEG-4 AVC encoded picture—no complaints about how the film looks. Sound, not surprisingly is every bit as impressive. A passable making of, and a better documentary on Clint Eastwood himself. Also comes in a Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital Copy pack (unpreviewed).

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • None

Special Features:

  • Step Into the Hereafter Focus Points (HD, 42 minutes)
  • The Eastwood Factor: Extended Version (HD, 129 minutes)

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