‘Hereafter’ has Oscar aspirations
What happens when you die?
It’s a “mystery” for some and “faith” for others, but as Clint Eastwood’s film manifests, there are no black and white scientific answers — although an accumulation of documented “near death” experiences may suggest something besides eternal void.
Blending words, music and scenes with the precision and delicacy of a chef, “Hereafter” weaves three character studies with a common element — a recent death or near death.
The former spaghetti western star toys, particularly, with a man who has a gift for connecting to those who have passed away. This psychic feels the ability to communicate across the veil is a curse. Symbolically, his gift can represent other life circumstances, such as handling tremendous fame or success, where the good is accompanied by potentially bad consequences.
Your heart aches for the eight year old boy whose brother died in a car accident. He continually searches for, not why, but where.
And you identify with the near drowning experience of a celebrity anchorwoman. Her vision, though shadowy, contains beams of light and elements of peace recalled by others.
“Hereafter” has “Oscar” etched in spirit, too.
Each member of the ensemble contributes an adequate proportion to the unsolvable equation. Their strengths lie in subtle, unsettling quirks, awkward questions or deafening silence. Yes, the segue between segments is confusing, it’s in a good manner, such as when a serial sets up a cliffhanger.
Most impressive are Eastwood’s effortlessly edited blends. He may use a camera tilting upward from the story on the ground to showing a cloudy sky where an airplane with another character happens to be flying by. Transition: artful and successful.
Through an eight year old boy, a news anchor who survived a tsunami and a disgruntled psychic, “Hereafter” gently reiterates what most of us have already heard — be it a religious experience through Jesus Christ, a between life and death vision or from the mouth of a sensitive talented individual with a connection — there is something beyond life.
Similarly, no matter the age nor ethnicity, those living have questions, be it looking for a message that may bring tranquility for their hurting emotions.
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