Deborah Ross

Leaden mess

Hereafter is directed by Clint Eastwood, produced by Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, and written by Peter Morgan, although what would attract one of these big names to such a project, let alone three, is anyone’s guess.

Leaden mess
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Hereafter is directed by Clint Eastwood, produced by Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, and written by Peter Morgan, although what would attract one of these big names to such a project, let alone three, is anyone’s guess.

Hereafter is directed by Clint Eastwood, produced by Clint Eastwood and Steven Spielberg, and written by Peter Morgan, although what would attract one of these big names to such a project, let alone three, is anyone’s guess. Honestly, I had more fun this week doing my tax return which, every year, nicely reminds me what a pitiful amount of money I earn and what a total loser I am.

Did Peter (Frost/Nixon; The Queen; Damned United; Lots of Good Stuff) and Clint (Lots of Good Stuff) and Stephen (See Clint) meet in Starbucks one morning and say, ‘You know what, making good films is such a drag. I’m thinking we should challenge ourselves with some sentimental drivel that is also a leaden mess. Peter, do you think you could manage a turgid script by Tuesday week?’ I can’t think of any other way to explain it. If I could, I would be more successful, and chief film critic of the New York Times by now, with my own TV show and website.

I’m trying to think of a way of getting out of saying what the film is about, because just the thought of revisiting it bores me, but as I don’t even have the imagination for that, I suppose I’ll have to go ahead, pathetic charade as it is. OK, it’s about three people who live in separate countries, have all been touched by death and have an interest in communing with the dead Over There, and meander about repetitively until they all come together in an incredulous ending that is meant to be moving and make you cry but, I can promise you, there wasn’t a wet eye in the house.

And the three people? Must we? Very well. One is George (Matt Damon), an American blue-collar worker and psychic who can contact the dead but is weary of this ability. ‘It’s not a gift, it’s a curse,’ he says at least 79 times to anyone who will listen.

Meanwhile, in London, nowhere near Tower Bridge, or Big Ben, although we are shown them anyway, 12-year-old twin brothers Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) live with their alcoholic mother and are close until one is killed in a road accident, which isn’t as tragic as it seems, as 50 per cent less McLaren has to be an excellent thing. They speak like this: ‘At last we. Can be a real. Family again.’ And, lastly, Marie (Cécile De France), a gorgeous French television journalist who has a near-death tsunami experience while holidaying in Indonesia and blah, blah, blah...although she does have very nice, interestingly cut hair. It’s her hair that kept me going, in so far as I did keep going. I kept thinking: would my hair go like that? Would it? Or, if I took a photo to the hairdresser, would he say, ‘Don’t be stupid, loser!’ before going out back to laugh about it with the Saturday girls? This is always a worry, isn’t it?

There is so much wrong with this film it’s kind of incredible and, because I feel generous this week, let me give you a typical example. (Usually, I am stingy with my typical examples, as you know.) Marcus is eventually fostered by a pleasant couple who, soon after his arrival, phone his social worker. ‘Something has happened,’ they say. ‘What?’ asks the social worker. ‘You’d better come round,’ say the couple.

So the social worker schleps to their place and discovers that the boy has robbed them of their cash BUT WHY COULDN’T THEY TELL HER THAT OVER THE PHONE? WHY DID THEY THINK SHE NEEDED TO SEE THE EMPTIED BISCUIT TIN, EVEN THOUGH SHE DID LOOK AT IT THOUGHTFULLY FOR A BIT! When Peter (Still Lots of Good Stuff, Amazingly) delivered his turgid script, did Clint (See Peter) and Steven (See Clint) say, ‘We had heard that British social workers were massively overworked and do not need to see emptied biscuit tins, but thank you for putting us right?’ I’m guessing they must have. Weird.

And there is more; oh, yes. The music is dreadful. Thunder cracks at highly charged moments, even though it isn’t raining. The direction is utterly bland. The film doesn’t care about its own subject matter, or have anything to say about it, but no mind, because here is Big Ben again, even though we are nowhere near it and, now, here’s the Eiffel Tower, so we know we are in Paris, France. (I love it when movies write Paris, France, at the bottom of the screen so we don’t confuse it with Paris, Italy.)

I don’t know what is Out There either, but if it is anything like this, it’s just a big lot of rubbishy nothing. Plus you may well want your money back.