A great director only needs fifteen to thirty minutes to impress its audience, to get them hooked on the story. In Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, the tsunami scene is simply amazing and executed superbly. The 2004 tsunami disaster in Thailand was used in the film more as a tool of characterization rather than simply showing a disaster for the sake of an adrenalin rush.
I have always admired Clint Eastwood ever since I watched Sudden Impact on television, then came Bird, Unforgiven, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, and even The Changeling. Hereafter is not Eastwood’s best work, in fact it may even disappoint some Eastwood fans, but the film is another example of his commitment to storytelling than to resort to gratuitous special effects that diffuse an otherwise intimate profound story. Eastwood let the story move slowly, (sometimes too slowly) giving audiences enough time to be intimate with the film’s diverse characters and discover their different but life changing experiences. If you are into melodrama, this film will just disappoint you. The acting is raw and real; the music complements the scenes rather than interferes, the silences are appropriate. The film is like a fire that started with a big blast and slowly burns so we can stare at the burning flame close enough. The film is very un-Hollywood in its treatment, and those who are used to Hollywood style of dramatization may not like this. Surprisingly, one of Hollywood’s oldest working directors may just be its most un-Hollywood. Bottom line, any film from Hollywood’s Renaissance man, Clint Eastwood, has always been worth my money. Hereafter , you get an American movie, an English movie and a French movie all in one. It is a good bargain.