HEREAFTER:

In his documentary RELIGULOUS (2008), Bill Maher observed that nobody really knows what happens to us when we die since no one has ever come back to explain what itís like. Director Clint Eastwood (MILLION DOLLAR BABY) adheres to this outlook by treating the subject matter as the eternal mystery that it is from the viewpoint of three disparate persons. One is a French television journalist (Cecile de France) who has a near death experience during an Asian tsunami while another is an eight-year-old British child (George McLaren) anxious to make contact with a twin brother (Frankie McLaren) killed in a traffic accident. Their storylines are more or less united by a plot involving a genuine American psychic (Matt Damon) who sees his ability to make connections with the departed as a hindrance to a normal life. Despite the subject matter, Peter Morganís (THE QUEEN) screenplay is derivative of movies with multiple plots like BABEL (2006) which was an offshoot of CRASH (2005) which was an offshoot of AMORES PERROS (2000) and so on and so forth. But Eastwood has a penchant for throwing the occasional cinematic curve ball and he does so in this work with a scene thatís genuinely shocking yet highly logical. Even if you donít buy into the overly coincidental climax where the three main characters come together in London, the film is still effective and very attractive to anyone willing to explore what I think is a fascinating topic without being exploitative. Tom Sternís cinematography is excellent and the tsunami sequence is powerfully filmed as catastrophic without looking like a disaster from a disaster movie. I donít think thereís any filmmaker working right now whoís better at utilizing light and shadow than Eastwood who at eighty-years-old may be pondering his own mortality. CRITICíS GRADE: B+

MOVIES TO WATCH FOR IN NOVEMBER: 127 HOURS (November 5), DUE DATE (November 5), MEGAMIND (November 5), MORNING GLORY (November 10), SKYLINE (November 12), UNSTOPPABLE (November 12), HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS-PART I (November 19), THE NEXT THREE DAYS (November 19), BURLESQUE (November 24), FASTER (November 24), THE KINGíS SPEECH (November 24), LOVE AND OTHER DRUGS (November 24), TANGLED (November 24)