Saturday, June 15, 2024

Clint Eastwood Film: Death Has a French Connection


Hereafter, Clint Eastwood’s new film, called “Hereafter” will be discussed for the director’s ability to make the most from the least.

Even though “Hereafter” is written by Peter Morgan, it feels like Eastwood didn’t get the best material from this master tailor.

Morgan wrote “Frost/Nixon,” “The Queen,” and “The Last King of Scotland.” He’s a Hollywood darling at the moment. But those screenplays moved. They had energy and focus. “Hereafter” is like an episode of the “The Ghost Whisperer.” It meanders and plotzes. It settles down in odd places and takes up residence when it should be sallying forth.

Eastwood, a master craftsman, makes the most of what he’s been delivered. He intertwines three main stories: one concerns Matt Damon, who has psychic abilities; another centers on a beautiful French TV broadcaster who survives the Indonesian tsunami and becomes psychic; the third is about a pair of 12 year British twins whose mum is a heroin addict.

Preposterously you know all or some of these people who live nowhere near each other will meet. Magical things will happen in the overlap. It’s “Babel” with a crystal ball. Matt Damon’s character tells everyone he meets that he doesn’t do meetings with the dead anymore. But each time he caves in after a whiny plea. It gets comical. You expect him to say, “Every time I try to leave, they pull me back in!”

You have to give Clint credit. First he made a whole movie in Japanese and in black and white. “Letters from Iwo Jima” was a tour de force. Now “Hereafter” is at least one third in French, with subtitles. That section features two actors unknown to Americans. The woman, Cecile de France, is channeling Julie Christie circa 1981. It’s amazing. She’s so attractive that Clint has trouble cutting away from her. We get it.

There are also a couple of memorable off beat moments. Richard Kind is spot on as a man who’s lost his wife and comes to Matt for a reading. You get his sadness and guilt succinctly. And then these two boys–brothers in real life Frankie and George McLaren–are so deeply searing that their section could easily have been made into a film on its own with Damon’s character supporting. But that would have taken a rewrite.

And what about Matt Damon? He’s good in everything he does. This is his second film in a row with Eastwood. He was nominated for an Oscar with “Invictus.” It’s not likely to happen here but that’s ok. My guess is he has plenty of charm to sell “Hereafter” to audiences abdundantly.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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