At 80, Oscar-winning director Clint Eastwood is still in search of new ideas and he find it in his latest directorial venture “Hereafter,” which pulsates with intrigue and drama as it tackles the age-old question of what happens when we die.
Eastwood adroitly weaves together the stories of three seemingly unrelated characters into one clear, compelling story with universal appeal and that comes across as completely organic and utterly unforced. It’s a difficult thing to do when the subject matter is based purely on speculation and hypotheticals.
“Hereafter” opens with an ominous, stomach-churning flood scene that can best be summed up as terrifying. Fashioned on the tsunami that devastated Thailand in 2004, a similar cataclysm gathers force as it heads directly for an Asian beach resort, where Marie (Cecile de France), a seasoned French television anchorwoman , and her boss and lover (Thierry Neuvic) are vacationing.
As the colossal rogue wave swells, so does the sense of helplessness and inevitability the audience feels for the scope of the tragedy that is about to unfold and its impending impact on the two characters just introduced.
In an effort to recreate as meticulously as possible the flood scene and its sweeping destruction of the shopping resort village, the director, armed with a camera, hopped on a surfboard and joined his crew into huge swells .
Marie is shopping for souvenirs for her lover’s children when the wave breaks. The TV anchorwoman is swept away and then struck while underwater. She loses all consciousness, in what can best be described as a near-death experience. The force of the wave throws her ashore miles from her original position, where she is found by two men, who try unsuccessfully to revive her.
A few moments later, however, she opens her eyes to the world and the devastation around her. The experience proves life-altering . Risking her career and personal life, she begins a quest to come face to face with her own mortality and uncover what exactly happened to her on the other side.
Shift to a working-class area of London where young twins Jason and Marcus (George and Frankie McLaren) are forced to deal with a deadbeat mother consumed by drugs and alcohol and staving off social workers intent on putting them into foster care. Being 12 minutes older, Jason feels responsible for his younger brother Marcus, who dotes on the elder twin. Tragedy strikes when Jason is hit by a car and killed, leaving Marcus devastated, alone and in desperate need of answers. He turn sto a psychic in hopes of learning where his brother’s soul has gone.
Less of a supernatural thriller than a spiritual soul searcher, this movie, magnificently conceptualized, may find its detractors in those who feel the slow pace works to its’ detriment. But for those who are fans of Eastwood’s worldview and characters that oftentimes are affected by their own mortality, this film is on the mark.