Here's a handy tip for aspiring screenwriters: Combine three or four half-baked story ideas into a single script to make everything seem more deep and profound than it really is. Writer Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) follows the example of critical darlings like Crash and Babel by combining the mostly-parallel narratives of a San Francisco psychic (Matt Damon) trying to lead a normal life, a French TV journalist (Cécile de France) dealing with a near-death experience and a London schoolboy (Frankie & George McLaren) grieving the death of his twin brother.
Director Clint Eastwood grabs the audience with the natural disaster that changes Marie's life — a CGI-manufactured set piece that provides a surprising visceral punch-as well as with the events that leave young Jason dead.
But Morgan, it turns out, doesn't have anything interesting to say about either grief or the way people confront the question of what happens after death. Like virtually every film that addresses the world beyond, it simply regurgitates a bland pudding of comforting nondenominational platitudes.
That would have been frustrating enough — and then Hereafter yanks these three people's lives into closer proximity in a way that demands a superlative form of the word "contrived." The fact that they have a chance to look one another in the eye does nothing to make them — or the previous 100 minutes of filmmaking — more interesting. But, hey, isn't it inherently fascinating how interconnected we all are? Grade: C
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