Family Movie Review: Hereafter

Movie: Hereafter
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements, including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language
Released in Theaters: Oct. 22, 2010
Genre: Drama, Fantasy
Runtime: 129 minutes
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Matt Damon, Cecile De France, Jay Mohr, Richard Kind, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, Bryce Dallas Howard, Steven R. Schirripa
Gecko Rating: 3 Gecko

hereafter-posterHereafter’ is yet another thoughtful, broody film from director Clint Eastwood. But like his other movies, it’s also sort of depressing. I think it’s because his movies deal with heavy topics like life and death, love and loss, aging people and war-ridden countries.

That’s not to say that most of Eastwood’s movies aren’t great – they are. It’s just that I’ve come to expect a certain type of movie from him (broody, thoughtful, depressing), and he usually delivers. I guess I’d like to see him shake it up with a romantic comedy or animated family film. Give us something we haven’t seen from you before.

In ‘Hereafter,’ Matt Damon plays George Lonegan, a guy who can talk to dead people, thanks to an illness and surgery he had as a kid that altered his brain chemistry. His brother would love nothing more than for George to set up shop – with his help, of course – and make tons of money from folks yearning to talk to their dead loved ones.

But knowing intimate details of peoples’ lives isn’t a gift to George. It’s a curse, as he’s reminded when a potential love interest (Bryce Dallas Howard) asks for a “reading,” which George agrees to against his better judgment.


Meanwhile, Marie LeLay (Cecile De France) is a soulful French journalist who has a near-death experience during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The opening scene of the movie is a fairly graphic depiction of water sweeping through a busy street, injuring and killing thousands of people. Marie nearly drowns before being brought back to life, at which time she begins having visions of the afterlife.

The third player in this story is Marcus (played by brothers Frankie and George McLaren), a young boy in London who loses his twin brother and ends up in foster care while his addict mom is in treatment. He also has questions about the hereafter, and would give anything to talk to his brother again.


The stories are interesting, and you want to know how it all turns out and whether the three main characters ever cross paths. At the same time, at 129 minutes long, the movie drags a bit and could have benefitted from some additional editing.

Also, Clint Eastwood composed the music, but I’m pretty sure he used the same melancholic guitar soundtrack that Lennie Niehaus wrote for ‘Unforgiven.’ I’m going to play both movies simultaneously and check it out.

‘Hereafter’ isn’t a bad movie, and it’s clear that Eastwood crafted it with his usual attention to detail. But I don’t think it’ll stick with me like some of his other movies like ‘Gran Torino,’ ‘Mystic River’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (kind of sorry I ever watched those last two).

Still, it’s Clint Eastwood paired with Matt Damon, who plays the emotionally tormented every-guy well. And while it’s a heavy topic about mortality, it’s not totally depressing; there’s some hope in there, too. ‘Hereafter’ is worth a look, either at the theater or when it’s released on DVD.

Notes for Parents:

Sex/Nudity: Couples flirt and kiss.

Violence/Gore. The film opens with an intense – but fictional — scene of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed and injured thousands of people. A flood sweeps through a street as people flee and are engulfed in water, including one of the main characters. A boy is hit by a car as he tries to escape from bullies. Themes of death are interwoven throughout the movie, and it’s implied that one character was sexually abused as a child.

Profanity: Infrequent uses of “sh*t,” “crap,” and “f*ck.”

Drugs/Alcohol: Some social drinking. An addict is shown with syringe marks on her arms.

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 14 and older who like Matt Damon, Clint Eastwood, or movies dealing with themes of death and the afterlife.

Will Parents Like It? It’s a thought-provoking movie while you’re watching it, but you might forget about it the next day.


Images: Warner Bros.


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  2. Melanie Avatar

    He really does tend to direct on the dark side. It is all a bit much for me, really.

  3. Sheryl Avatar

    Jane, Thanks so much (again!) for steering me in the right direction. I have been curious about this one, since I generally love all Clint Eastwood’s movies. But I’ll save this for when I want to get depressed…and that is probably never 🙂

  4. Ruth Pennebaker Avatar

    I’m a big Eastwood fan — fascinated by the long arc of his career. I’d been hopeful about this movie, but am now thinking I probably won’t indulge; life is too short for movies that aren’t good. Thanks for the heads-up.

  5. Christine Avatar

    I’ve been wanting to watch this! I’m so glad you reviewed it. It’s one of the few movies I’ve actually watched a trailer for, in anticipation of watching it someday. I thought the premise was intriguing.

  6. MyKidsEatSquid Avatar

    Huh, I’ve been wondering if this was any good. Sounds like I’ll watch for it in a few months and check it out from the library.

  7. Susan Avatar

    Much as I like Matt Damon, but I think I’ll skip this one.

  8. Jennifer Margulis Avatar

    I like Clint Eastwood. This is a movie I MAY try to see. But I go to so few movies … Hard to decide! If any of your other readers see it, I hope they’ll weigh in!

  9. Alexandra Avatar

    I read through the other comments, to see how people were reacting, and was really surprised that you turned so many of them off which is not at all how I reacted. I cannot wait to see this film. I tried to convince my hubby to drive 45 minutes away where it is playing, but he said to wait until it comes closer. I just read Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms by David Kessler, reviewed by Oprah, which is about spiritual experiences prior to natural death, and yes, spirits do return to welcome those who are dying. I know this because of what happened prior to my mom’s passing. It is strange that this would seem depressing. On the contrary, it is so reassuring to know that deceased loved ones are there to welcome us when we pass. I wonder whether people would live differently if this knowledge were more widespread? Anyway, I enjoyed your review and look forward to seeing this movie in which Clint Eastwood approaches the subject at 80, right? He must also have been doing some reading and know what lies ahead …

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