HEREAFTER (12A): On General Release Friday 28th January
Hereafter is over-sentimental, manipulative, nonsensical tripe; a film which not only manages to be punishingly boring but also insulting to your intelligence as well.
It begins with Marie (Cecile De France), a French journalist who has a near-death experience when she’s almost killed by a tsunami. Returning to her job as a successful anchor of French magazine show, she’s clearly not herself and her boyfriend/producer insists that she take time off to finish her book.
Meanwhile, in London, Marcus (Frankie McLaren) loses his twin brother Jason (George McLaren) in a car accident and is taken into foster care when his junkie mother is unable to look after him.
In America, George (Matt Damon) is trying to put his former life as a professional psychic behind him because he finds that it leaves him unable to form lasting relationships with people. After a potential romantic encounter is scuppered by his gift and he’s made redundant, his brother encourages him to return to his former life. Desperate to escape, he leaves for England where events conspire to bring all three characters together.
Peter Morgan’s turgid script is simply atrocious. George is inexplicably into Charles Dickens, used as nothing but a device to draw him to London. Marie begins a crusade to prove her experience of the afterlife is true which amounts to her visiting a single researcher who babbles vaguely about a conspiracy and that everyone’s similar near-death experiences can’t just be coincidence, neatly demonstrating bad journalism and bad science in one 20 minute segment.
While Damon and De France are both adequate, they seem to be sleepwalking through their roles. The same can’t be said about twins Frankie and George McLaren who are simply abominable, delivering lines like they’re reading them off a broken autocue. It’s not helped by Morgan’s abysmal dialogue – anyone that has the temerity to include such clichéd pap as “Now we can finally be a proper family” doesn’t even deserve to be a scriptwriter for a remake of Eldorado. It isn’t helped by Eastwood’s dismal score (the same self-composed plinky-plonky acoustic guitar he’s trotted out in half a dozen films).
But the major sticking point of Hereafter is its reprehensible use of the tsunami and the London tube bombings as cheap emotional shortcuts. I’m not one to get precious about the dramatisation of real events but they should be handled with some kind of sensitivity and not stapled into a movie which lacks any genuine ability to tug at heartstrings.
Not only does Hereafter fail on a dramatic level but it says nothing about the metaphysical questions it raises and its shameless manipulation makes it as exploitative as the fake mediums it condemns, leaving it almost as unpalatable as last year’s repugnant The Lovely Bones.