Film probes the hereafter

Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

In the cinematic world, there is a fine line between heavy-handed and understated. “Hereafter,” director Clint Eastwood’s latest collaboration with Matt Damon straddles that line and nearly falls into schlocky territory.

Despite the uncharacteristically sentimental script from Peter Morgan, the performances from its three stars save the film from being totally saccharine.  What happens after death is a wholly compelling subject, and one just wishes that it be given a slightly better treatment than what “Hereafter” provides.

Damon is a reluctant, California-based medium who sees his abilities far more as a curse than a gift. Cécile De France is a Parisian reporter who becomes consumed by the prospect of the “hereafter” after experiencing a near-death experience in the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004, and twins Frankie and George McLaren play Marcus, a London schoolboy who seeks answers after losing his twin brother in an accident.

It is no surprise to anyone familiar with Damon’s range as an actor that he is great in this film, but the revelations come in the form of De France and the McLarens. De France is driven and poised, and the McLarens’ performances, their first in film, is full of pathos. Extra points go to Eastwood for including the phenomenal Derek Jacobi in a cameo role as himself.

The way that Morgan’s script brings three disparate storylines together is less obvious and obnoxious than in “Crash,” but the way that “Hereafter” ties everything in a neat little package is a little grating. Still, though, the performances keep the film from becoming too much, and they are fantastic in their own right.

Sarah B. Pilchick may be contacted at

Rating: 3/4 stars

Starring: Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Frankie and George McLaren

Directed By: Clint Eastwood

MPAA Rating: PG-13