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Hereafter

With the supernaturally themed Hereafter, director Clint Eastwood heads into M. Night Shyamalan territory and sadly Shyamalan's dearth of recent success rubs off on this project as well. Some of M. Night's recent failings are in evidence here: a plodding story with little apparent direction (it takes about fifty minutes to kick into gear) and characters that are not all that interesting. And although the film is interspersed with some nicely staged sequences and contains some fascinating conceptual elements, it fails to pull together as a whole.


Additionally, Eastwood's film has a multi-stranded narrative, the danger of which is the overall dilution of a strong central story. Such narrative structures only work if each strand has a strong narrative core of its own and ultimately this is the terminal problem with Hereafter: of the three stories presented, one is compelling, the other two, not so much.

There are sparks of Eastwood brilliance, however, and these sparks are synonymous with the presence of Bryce Dallas Howard - ironic given that she represents yet another link to Shyamalan. Howard is very, very good in this and her tragically brief scenes with Matt Damon are the best by a long, long margin. There's real on-screen chemistry between the pair, a chemistry which is lacking everywhere else in the film. In retrospect it's a shame that the film was not actually about these two characters.

Hereafter is a fractious affair albeit with some nice elements and the all-to-brief pairing of Bruce Dallas Howard with Matt Damon is almost worth the price of admission. It is, however, a disappointingly minor entry into Eastwood's canon.
Stuart Jamieson


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