LET'S PRETEND that when you die, you go to a blurry, floaty, black-and-white spirit world, surrounded by your loved ones, who apologize for everything mean they ever did to you. Let's pretend that's true. If that's the case, then Hereafter is actually a pretty good movie.
Because that's the central problem with Hereafter: It takes a huuuuuge leap of faith to swallow its central premise—the kind of leap of faith that requires you to, I don't know, wear crystals or read Mitch Albom. Once you're on board, though, the movie is surprisingly sober and well told. That's because it's directed by Clint Eastwood, who, at 80 years old, is no doubt starting to seriously think about what's gonna happen to him when he kicks the bucket.
Hereafter follows three disconnected storylines, each in different parts of the world: A French newscaster (Cécile de France, a name so perfectly French that I was profoundly disappointed to learn she is Belgian) gets caught in a tsunami, drowns, and is revived. In San Francisco, a psychic (Matt Damon) puts his life together after giving up his supernatural ability to talk to dead people. And in London, two twins (Frankie and George McLaren) deal with their drug-addict mother. These storylines are each effective in their own way; Damon has the hardest work to do, but he successfully sells his character despite the far-fetched implausibility of his psychic "gift."
True, at the end all the plotlines come together in a bullshitty way, but Hereafter has isolated highlights. The tsunami is well handled, and there's a scene where Damon feeds a blindfolded girl (Bryce Dallas Howard) that might be the sexiest use of food in a movie since Tom Jones. (9 1/2 Weeks, you are not on that list.) It's a testament to Eastwood's directorial skill that he (mostly) prevents the touchy-feely hogwash from turning Hereafter into a giant pile of suck.