Hereafter and the Critics

Bryce Dallas Howard and Matt Damon in Hereafter

I’m surprised at the wide range of critical reaction to Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, a film that I admire.   Hereafter now has a middling MetaCritic score of 56 – the same score as Jackass 3D.

Comfortingly, three of the critics that I respect the most reacted to Hereafter as I did.  Metacritic assigned 100 points to reviews by Roger Ebert and Mick LaSalle and 90 points to a review by A.O. Scott.  But enough midrange reviews along with a smattering of  negative reviews brought Hereafter‘s average down.

I read several of the lukewarm and disapproving reviews.  Some didn’t find the supernatural premise credible enough to suspend disbelief.  Some expected an answer about what comes after death.  Some were disappointed by the languid pace after the rock-em sock-em opening sequence.   I think that they all missed the point.  The movie isn”t rally about whether there is an afterlife.  It’s about how we living humans deal with mortality with grief, fear, avoidance, faith, questioning and belief or non-belief in an Afterlife.  The richness of the movie is in the superb depiction of actual humans doing what we humans do – including grieving, longing, wondering, scamming, searching and ignoring.

As to the Afterlife, the one character in the movie who really knows that there is one, can’t work hard enough to escape any contact with it.  What does that say?

As a side note, virtually all the reviews, even the most negative ones, praised the tsunami sequence at the beginning.  Everybody loves a good tidal wave.

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