The best way to describe Hereafter would be to say that it is an emotional roller coaster – but even that might be a bit of an understatement. Released in 2010, directed by Clint Eastwood, and featuring an international cast (including Matt Damon), Hereafter is a powerful story of life, death, and what awaits on the other side.
The movie follows three story lines, with three people who have been affected by death in one way or another, and who experienced a direct or indirect contact with the hereafter. George Lonegan (Matt Damon) is a psychic who is able to see beyond this world and receive messages from the dead. Marie Lelay (Cecile De France) is a French journalist who is able to catch a glimpse of the world of the dead due to a traumatic experience that nearly kills her. Marcus (Frankie McLaren) is a 12-year-old boy who experiences a great loss and searches for answers. The three story lines intertwine in unpredictable places and come to a touching conclusion.
The peaceful opening scene set in Thailand is literally a calm before the storm – we then witness a re-creation of the 2004 tsunami, during which Marie has a near-death experience and catches a glimpse of the hereafter. I think a big part of the movie’s impact was the use of actual events, it grounded the story in the real world and gave it much more emotion. The tsunami looked very convincing – and pretty terrifying at that. The movie has a very international feel about it, with Marie’s story line mainly taking place in Paris, George’s – in San Francisco, and Marcus’ – in London.
I thought it was a smart decision not to use flashy special effects in the scenes where we catch the glimpses of the world of the dead. It was done in a rather simple and subtle way. The soundtrack really captured the mood, with the original music composed by Clint Eastwood. All the actors were incredibly believable, making the movie full of overwhelming emotion.
Although the film deals with a lot of loss and pain, its central message is quite uplifting, summarized in the words that George receives from the world of the dead: “If you are afraid about being on your own, don’t be. You are not.”