Tuesday, October 26, 2010

MOVIE: HEREAFTER


Clint Eastwood, that long, lean, laconic cowboy of yesteryear, is thinking about death. In HEREAFTER he has crafted a movie that gently explores the subject of what lies beyond with soulful brevity and a flood of emotion; it begins with a violent tidal wave and ends in a wash of tenderness.

Three stories gradually and inevitably flow toward each other; in one, Matt Damon plays a psychic whose gift has cut him off from life. In another,a French TV reporter's life (Cecile de France) is turned upside down by a natural disaster. In a third story, a young boy (Frankie/George McLaren) suffers a cruel loss.

All of these stories explore the fragility of life, the buffeting that we suffer in its turbulence, and the deep desire to anchor ourselves to each other. The film has a quiet majesty, and inspires real compassion. Damon's beautifully controlled performance draws us into a well of loneliness so dark, we yearn for his release. Bryce Dallas Howard is heartcrushingly vulnerable as a young woman trying to find her way after a broken relationship.

Somehow the movie manages to avoid sentimentality, and even pokes fun at the mumbo jumbo this subject matter is heir to. Rather, the movie is extraordinarily believable, and its conclusions feel rooted to real subliminal human experience.

I left HEREAFTER feeling profound relief from the tumult of the here and now.

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