"Hereafter" is not Clint Eastwood's strongest movie in terms of narrative coherence, but that doesn't mean it is devoid of the iconic director's penchant to weave some of the most heart tugging tales in cinema. In fact, the story of twins Marcus and Jason, who survive a negligent mother, just about broke my heart to pieces.
The film has 3 stories set in 3 separate countries (US, France, UK): Matt Damon is George, a reluctant psychic who tries hard to fend off the pleadings of desperate strangers wishing to "connect" with their dear departed. One day, he meets a charming girl while taking a culinary class, but would knowledge of his "special gift" bring them together?
Meanwhile, Marie Lelay (Cecile de France, who was with Jackie Chan in "Around the World in 80 Days" and the psychological drama "A Secret") is back from a devastating holiday where she almost died from a tsunami. She drowns and dies - but is revived. Soon, "visions" from her death gradually consume her. Her high-flying broadcast job is slowly slipping away from her grasp. Finally, there's the tale of twins (my favorite part) Marcus and Jason. When Jason dies from a road accident while getting away from the neighborhood bullies, Marcus' life downspirals. He is placed in foster care while her mother is trying to rehabilitate herself. Marcus is compelled to seek closure from his brother's abrupt goodbye. But how does one seek resolutions from a dead loved one? By desperately meeting every dubious psychic in the city. One day, he comes across an American psychic's website.
As narrative exigency would have it, George finds himself in London where he meets Marie touring her book. Young Marcus, meanwhile, finds George and stalks him outside his hotel room. Later that night, Marcus gets an audience with George who begrudgingly agrees to see him.
The serendipitous meeting of these three characters felt a bit maneuvered. After all, coincidences like this only happens in movies, right? But even French film master Jean-Luc Godard ("Breathless", "Band of Outsiders") shares his thoughts on such stories. In "Alphaville", Godard says: "Sometimes, reality is too complex for oral communication, but legend embodies it in a form which enables it to spread all over the world." Tales solely based on coincidences don't usually make the most logically sumptuous stories, but sometimes, a simple leap of faith is all that's required to transcend the inadequacies of a well intentioned narrative.