Film » Screens

Near Death

Clint Eastwood takes a tedious look at the other side

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Clint Eastwood has been on a roll since 2003, when Mystic River once and for all replaced movies like Blood Work and Space Cowboys on his directing schedule. For his latest, Hereafter, he dips into the metaphysical world of the afterlife for the first time, and the outcome is kinda boring. It starts with a bang – actually, it’s a tsunami that rips through Indonesia, where French TV journalist Marie (Cécile De France) has a near-death experience. It’s a stunning scene, one filled with terror, dread, and grief. But Hereafter soon settles into a more meditative groove half a world away, where San Francisco factory worker – and former professional psychic -- George (Matt Damon) is reluctantly giving a reading to a widower who wants to connect with his wife. Meanwhile, a young British boy (Frankie McLaren) mourns his twin brother, who was recently killed in an accident. Eventually these three people and their stories converge, but it’s a long and occasionally plodding journey to their destination. Along the way, all of them wrestle with mortality, some more furiously than others. It’s a subtle movie – Eastwood’s most subtle as a director – but it’s also slow and somewhat tedious. And its views on the afterlife are less thought-provoking than impassively straightforward. It’s a typically resolute move from the steadfast Eastwood, but the movie deserves a little more probing for such a weighty subject. Hereafter isn’t a bad film, but it is a cluttered and soggy one. The real world doesn’t stand a chance. --Michael Gallucci

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