Film: "Hereafter"; Director: Clint Eastwood; Actors: Matt Damon, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, Cecile De France; Rating: ***
Clint Eastwood has made a name for himself with his lilting, little gems. He has become an auteur in Hollywood with his own style and pace of filmmaking. Sadly in "Hereafter", he lapses in his own technique, making it a much lesser film than what it could have been.
It traces the near-death experiences of individuals scattered across the world.
A French journalist dies in the tsunami of 2004 for a few minutes and has a brief experience of the afterlife, only to come back to life. The experience changes her life drastically, leading her to search the afterlife, while unsuccessfully trying to keep the life she knows intact.
A man in America, after a near death experience in his childhood, can connect with people in the afterlife, but it interferes with his relationships and he wants nothing of it despite the insistence of his brother.
A young kid in London is trying to cope with the death of his twin brother, and wants to contact him. The three lives connect in interesting ways that will change the course of each.
The intention of Eastwood in this film is noble. Sadly his craft, at least in this film, does not match up to this intention. In interesting ways, Eastwood shows how humans are connected through death.
Thus in the Indonesian lives wrecked by the tsunami, the black poor woman in America who's lost a child, or the band of Sikh people mourning a death in the background of the death of the young boy's twin brother, he attempts unifying humanity and bring the thought of afterlife, or after-death -- something that all of us have thought of some time or the other.
He also presents the unity of many near-death experiences, of seeing beautiful white light after death and weightlessness and timelessness.
In parts, he gets didactic with it, despite an attempted restraint. It could, however, have been done with better story-telling craft and quickening of pace by better editing.
Also, in weaving together different stories in the film that necessitates pausing one to jump to another that is not yet interconnected, there is no time or emotion left for the audience to connect well and empathise better with each character.
This weakens the emotional appeal of a film that tries telling the story of something we all think about sometime or the other.