Avoiding the Subject
Release Date: October 22, 2010
Starring: Matt Damon, Cécile de France,
Jay Mohr, Brice Dallas Howard,
George McLaren, Frankie
McLaren, Thierry Neuvic,
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 129 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures/Time
Director: Clint Eastwood
Executive Producer: Steven Spielberg, Frank
Marshall, Peter Morgan, Tim
Producer: Clint Eastwood, Kathleen
Kennedy, Robert Lorenz
Writer: Peter Morgan
Address Comments To:Jeffrey L. Bewkes, CEO, Time Warner
Barry M. Meyer, Chairman/CEO
Alan Horn, President/COO
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (New Line Cinema)
Jeff Robinov, President, Warner Bros. Pictures Group
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000
George Lonegan (Matt Damon) is a lonely, blue-collar American with a special ability to communicate with the dead. Physical contact immediately brings him into the world of the hereafter, making it impossible for him to be intimate with anyone. His brother, Billy (Jay Mohr), sees his connection to the afterlife as a gift and wants to capitalize on it, but George views it as a curse and longs to live a normal life.
When George is partnered with Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard) in their culinary class, he feels hopeful about the possibility of romance. They finally attempt to spend time together outside of the classroom, and Melanie discovers George’s gift. So, she begs him to do a “reading” for her. Despite his protests, George concedes and his reading uncovers a truth about Melanie’s life that leaves her devastated. Although Melanie promises his knowledge of her past won’t ruin their budding relationship, she disappears from his life, and George is left heartbroken once again. Then, when he is laid off from his job, George goes on a pilgrimage to London in hopes of finding a way to leave his past behind him.
Across the world, French reporter Marie DeLay (Cécile de France) is on holiday with her boyfriend in Southeast Asia. A large tsunami washes her away, and some rushing debri knocks her unconscious. Sinking deep beneath the water, Marie has a brush with death and sees visions of life beyond the physical world. After bystanders using CPR bring her back to life, she struggles to reintegrate herself into the world with which she was once so familiar. Forever changed by her near-death experience, Marie finds herself detached from those around her, leaving her close friends and colleagues uncomfortable with who she’s become. Frustrated with their lack of understanding and overwhelmed with curiosity about what she experienced, Marie writes a book about what happened, hoping to find someone who will listen and understand her.
Meanwhile in London, twin brothers, Jason and Marcus (Frankie and George McLaren), try to cover for their mother, who struggles with alcohol and drug abuse. Social workers pay an unexpected visit to their home. Always the leader and outspoken older twin, Jason formulates a plan to keep them from being taken away from her. When she sends Jason out to pick up medication that the boys believe will help get her off of drugs, Jason finds himself in the middle of a gang that bullies him and tries to steal the medication. Fighting at all costs to hold on to the one thing he believes will help his mother, Jason escapes from the pack of bullies, only to be chased into the path of an oncoming car and killed instantly.
With the death of his brother, Marcus is left to fend for himself. The incident is the one thing that finally awakens his mother to her reality, but in order for her to get the help she needs, she must send Marcus to a foster home. It is during his year with his foster parents that Marcus begins his journey to understand death and cope with a future without his best friend and brother.
George, Marie and Marcus’s paths all lead them to London, where their lives intersect unexpectedly. It is through their interactions with each other that they discover the truths they’ve been searching for and are able to accept their realities and move forward with greater peace.
Matt Damon delivers another excellent performance in his portrayal of George. Cécile de France lights up the screen with her beauty and sophistication. Brothers Frankie and George McLaren take an impressive turn as Marcus and Jason in their first time ever on the big screen. And, Clint Eastwood puts his signature stamp on the direction, with a beautifully shot movie and realistic special effects (particularly with the tsunami scenes).
However, the movie comes to an abrupt end, with each storyline wrapping up too easily and prettily. The ending leaves audiences wanting deeper answers to the questions presented throughout the film and longing for more realistic interactions between the characters.
Spiritually and philosophically, Eastwood offers viewers no solid theological answers and pretty much avoids the topic of theology. Furthermore, although some fake psychics are shown and the movie generally supports belief in an afterlife, it avoids Jesus Christ’s revelation about the subject and involves very strong, overt cases of psychic occultism or speaking to or communicating with dead people.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
- Jesus Christ, John 11:25, 26.
The acting in HEREAFTER is superb. Matt Damon does a fine job as the reluctant psychic. Clint Eastwood puts his signature stamp on the direction, with a beautifully shot movie and realistic effects. However, the movie comes to an abrupt end, with each storyline wrapping up too easily. Furthermore, Eastwood offers no theological answers and pretty much avoids the topic. Although some fake psychics are shown, and the movie generally supports belief in an afterlife, it avoids what Jesus Christ says and promotes an abhorrent occult worldview. How can you discuss the afterlife without focusing on God?