Friday, January 14, 2011

‘Hereafter’: Life after the afterlife

After the acclaimed sports/political biopic “Invictus,” Clint Eastwood works with Matt Damon anew. The new collaboration is the moving paranormal drama “Hereafter,” about a hesitant psychic and two other figures coping with separate tragedies. Damon plays George, who previously communicated with dead people. Marie (Cecile De France) is a French reporter who recalls experiencing a different state after dying for a few minutes, and Marcus (played by twins Georgie and Frankie McLaren) is an English kid looking for ways to reach his recently departed sibling.

“Hereafter” is moving and insightful. Three characters’ unrelated stories ultimately connect, their different encounters with death motivating each to find personal answers. George’s search for normalcy lets him experience satisfaction through a construction job and a cooking class; Marie pursues the truth about the afterlife she glimpsed; Marcus wishes to contact his brother, and approaches an assortment of questionable characters claiming to be clairvoyants.

De France and the twin actors give emotionally resonant performances, while Damon is more subdued, somewhat unrelatable as the troubled psychic. Adding nicely to the equation are Bryce Dallas Howard as George’s cooking companion, and Lyndsey Marshal (“Rome,” “Being Human”) as Marcus’ alcohol-addled mother.

It presents questions about life after death and paranormal phenomena that aren’t always clearly answered, but the mysteries are acceptably presented. The way the stories eventually converge could’ve been more dramatic and creative, but “Hereafter” nevertheless conveys its messages consistently, and sans hokiness.

“Hereafter” opens January 19 in Metro Manila.

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