Sunday, 30 January 2011

96: Review - Hereafter

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

30 Jan 2011. Location: Cinema

Plot Synopsis: When you die, you stand around in some mist, looking at a light. And it's great, apparently.

Right, first things first. Allow me (or Clint Eastwood) to introduce you to Frankie and George McLaren. They can't act. One of them can cry on demand, but they can't fucking act. At best, they're wooden. At worst (the chemist scene), it literally sounds like they're reading the lines for the first time, as a man just out of shot holds them up on a board, scrawled in barely legible marker. Seriously folks, I'm not making this shit up, they ruin the film.
That bit in the trailer? That "I recognise you!" line? That's not even the worst of it.

*ahem* Now that's out of the way...

You know it's Oscar-season when the schedules are filled with overly-long, worthy dramas, full of A-grade acting and producing talent, throwing everything they have into a film. And that's not a bad thing, cinema is a place for 'films', every bit as much as 'movies'. This was almost one of them.

Emotionless bean-face Matt Damon makes a fairly good stab at being George Lonegan, an ex-'psychic', who tried to leave it behind as it was emotionally draining him. Obviously, he has a real gift, and can't simply turn it off, which is a major drawback as he tries to move on and do other things with his life. The problem is, whenever you see him doing a reading, he looks more vague and insincere that the fakers he wants to distance himself from. Ah, well.

Cécile De France is more impressive as television journalist Marie who, after a near-death experience, is beginning to develop the same burgeoning powers. The paths of George and Marie are gradually drawn together in London, where a young boy grieving the death of his twin brother is desparately looking for a way to talk to his twin.

This film could have been so much more, and thankfully doesn't descend to the mawkish sentimentality that other writers would have opted for. Given that we see 'the afterlife', it thankfully steers clear of confirming that any actual religion is the right one, yet strongly suggests that there is something, we just don't know what it is. But seriously, it's like a reasonable American paranormal drama has been intercut with a low-budget British TV drama. I find it hard to believe that Clint Eastwood directed the segments shot in the UK.

The Good: The tsunami sequence at the start, the supporting cast, Bryce Dallas Howard as a potentially interesting character that's just scrapped for no real reason. The avoidance of the writer to claim that any particular vision of the afterlife is 'correct'.

The Bad: The establishing shots of London and Paris feature Tower Bridge and the Eiffel Tower, respectively. We later get the 'you can see the Eiffel Tower from any window in Paris' syndrome, but at least we don't get on-screen captions saying "London, England'. Also, the writer's avoidance of explaining the afterlife more. The concept of 'moving on' is hinted at, but that's all.

The Ugly: Frankie and George McLaren. See above. Their acting makes Byker Grove look like The Godfather, and destroys any credibility the film builds up.

Aside from Eastwood's considerable prowess, the producing talents of this film include Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy. These are the people that gave us Indiana Jones. How the mighty... etc.

A wasted opportunity.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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