A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Clint Eastwood-directed drama (which stars Matt Damon) deals with the weighty subjects of death and the afterlife and may prove too intense for tweens and younger teens. At moments -- especially when examining how death affects those left behind -- it’s steeped in melancholy; one child even loses his twin brother. The first 10 minutes (which recreate 2004's horrific tsunami) are realistically terrifying; there are also other upsetting sequences involving a car accident, some swearing (including "f--k"), and a character who's addicted to drugs. Still, the movie tackles its tough subjects with empathy and raises significant questions about faith and grief.
What's the story?
Famous French broadcaster Marie (Cecile de France) nearly dies when a monumental tsunami engulfs the resort town in which she and her lover are vacationing; for all intents and purposes, she was dead, but she's revived after being fished out of the water. In San Francisco, George (Matt Damon) is a psychic who’s no longer practicing his craft; doing so exhausts and saddens him, much to the chagrin of his brother (Jay Mohr), who thinks he’s brilliant at it and should make a living off his otherwordly skills. In England, 11-year-old Marcus (Frankie McLaren) is beside himself when his twin brother (George McLaren) is plowed down by a car, leaving him alone to deal with life and his drug-addicted mother. They may be from different countries and hold disparate world views, but all three characters are struggling to figure out whether there's an afterlife -- and if so, how to reconcile it with the here and now.
Is it any good?
HEREAFTER is compelling enough to stick with you long after you watch it. It’s earnest, serious, and inquisitive -- all good things in a movie, and certainly more than what you get in most movies nowadays. The actors are on their game, and director Clint Eastwood displays the same surety we’ve seen in his previous endeavors. He allows scenes to linger where other directors might have moved on from lack of confidence (or vision); he knows how to frame a shot so that we can’t take our eyes away.
But the film spends much of its currency almost immediately, staging an awe-inspiring and frighteningly realistic version of the tsunami that wrecked the Asian continent and claimed so many lives in late 2004. There’s such terror and immediacy in the first 10 minutes that what follows, by comparison, lacks power. Also, Damon’s George has a sluggish storyline and is maddeningly accepting of the isolation that his special skills bring him; when he finally moves to change his course, it almost doesn’t ring true. And though Eastwood appears to have a point of view on the afterlife, we’re left with more questions than answers. To paraphrase the song, “Alfie”: What is it all about, after all? Is it just for the moment we live?
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the movie's messages. What is it saying about the afterlife/hereafter? Is it trying to convince viewers to believe something specific?
Can you think of other movies that have imagined the afterlife? How does this one compare?
Were any parts of the movie upsetting/alarming? Why?
- In theaters: October 15, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: March 15, 2011
- Cast: Cecile De France, Jay Mohr, Matt Damon
- Director: Clint Eastwood
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 126 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic elements including disturbing disaster and accident images, and for brief strong language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.