Friday, April 15, 2011

Hereafter (Clint Eastwood)

The exhaustion of vision.

The film that seemingly came at a right time considering the stage of Clint Eastwood's career and age already sealed with greatness, composure and productivity. There's not much left to explore for him, so why not the mystery of the afterlife and, at times, tricky to pull off atmosphere of the supernatural? "Hereafter", with its uncommon use of a finely recreated natural disaster and unrelated though interconnected stories, is more of a well-thought curiosity piece whose focus goes everywhere, filmmaking wise, rather than a pure narrative that speaks of some tightly-drawn drama.

It stars Matt Damon in a very vulnerable performance as George, a genuine psychic that considers his insights into the netherworld a curse rather than a gift. Like a "Miss Lonelyhearts", he has given up to what he does best, keeps his profile low, yet the quantity of those who seek for help is at an all-time high. Above his personal and psychological struggles, at the opposite side of existence, he unconsciously serves as the personification of the kid, Marcus' (played by Frankie and George McLaren) primary goal: To find a medium for him to talk to his deceased twin brother.

You know those motifs prevalent throughout ensemble, non-linear films that connects each characters and sub-stories? The briefcase in "Pulp Fiction", the dog in "Amores Perros" or the frog rain in "Magnolia"? In "Hereafter's" case, it is Damon's character and his uncompromising visions; as we witness the emotional plight of the grieving kid and the startling, subconscious discovery of the French journalist, it all forms into a wide round of events that ultimately encircles George and his subsequent interactions with the two.

It's a given that in the film's 2 hour running time, these characters' destiny will soon converge just like other typical films of its kind. How it will come out convincingly and without any contrivances or narrative convolution rests on the handling of the material. And while it's not anything new in terms of cinematic experience, Clint Eastwood has, even in a very meager way, still delivered.

"Hereafter" surely does not belong in the league of Eastwood's very best works; but damn, his directorial range is just astounding. He pulled off something akin to Inarritu's works, filled it with the evocative anticipation of what lies beyond the limits of life and mortal existence, and armed it with consistency.

Judging that Clint Eastwood is not fond of leaving personal trademarks in his films, "Hereafter", although having its own flaws, still came out strengthened by an unhindered emotional urgency and subtly encompassing vision; indeed distinguishable marks of his own. Only the questionable ending disappoints, and the closure for the poor Bryce Dallas Howard character not given enough importance.

Her connection with Damon's character, in my opinion, is much more believable. But thinking that "Hereafter" is a fantasy, I guess the ethereal is preferably highlighted rather than the definite. Dramatic escapism, it ultimately seems.


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