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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 21, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Accent

Weak screenplay kills deathly film

Actor Matt Damon goes back to his roots as a dramatic actor in the restrained film “Hereafter.” Despite the film being billed as “Inception” with a psychic, “Hereafter” turns out more dull than thrilling.

“Hereafter” intertwines the stories of three characters: George Lonnegan (Matt Damon), a reluctant psychic in the United States,  Marie (Cécile de France), a French TV reporter and Marcus (George McLaren), a boy mourning the sudden death of his older brother.

The dialogue is weak, but the leads pick up the slack thanks to their emotionally-charged acting. De France brings vulnerability to Marie that is sexy and realistic. Damon rules the screen with his commanding presence. He reeks of sorrow, yet carries himself confidently.

The film is about learning to deal with loss, but each character has distinct problems that are too different to try to lump together. Just as the ghoulish feel of the movie is ingrained into the plot, the picture becomes a romance flick when Lonnegan meets Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) in a cooking class. The romance is charming but completely irrelevant and it doesn’t work with the underlying grief present throughout the film.

Clint Eastwood’s unclear direction is rectified largely in the editing room. Editors Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach manage the film’s three linear plot lines nicely. However, at two hours and nine minutes, it runs a half hour too long and becomes boring.
Tom Stern’s cinematography is gorgeous for its well-framed action and motivated lighting. He successfully conveys the supernatural feeling Eastwood is after with cool blue tones, heavy use of shadows and great camera work.

The movie’s musical score complements the visuals perfectly. Part hopeful and part somber, Eastwood’s score helps fill in the gaps left by the drawn-out pacing in the script.

The film opens with a destructive roar but ends with barely a whimper. The decidedly weak screenplay forces Damon to carry the film with his terrific performance. It doesn’t take a psychic to tell that without Damon’s steamy chemistry with de France and Howard, the film would be a train wreck.

“Hereafter” was written by Peter Morgan and directed by Clint Eastwood.