It doesn't matter if you come from London, Paris or San Francisco. It doesn't matter if we speak the same language.
We live in the same world, undergo similar experiences, and respond to those experiences in different ways. Some of those experiences offer insights into something more that lies beyond the everyday reality you can see, hear, feel or touch.
A female French tv journalist has a near death experience in an island resort in a tsunami which jolts her out of her ordinary everyday reality. A 12 year old London boy who copes with the sudden death of his twin brother goes into foster care while his mother goes into rehab, and seeks answers, and Matt Damon plays a reluctant 'real' psychic in San Francisco who people seek in their quest for answers. He has the gift which he considers a curse. If you are like me, as you watch you wonder if there is an invisible thread that will somehow connect these three stories, and their paths will somehow cross.
Hereafter shows a major shift in direction for Clint Eastwood, and Matt Damon. All of Clint Eastwood movies tend to be grounded in reality, whereas Hereafter moves to a metaphysical level. Some people who usually like Clint Eastwood movies won't like this transition. So, you have been warned. Matt Damon often plays action heroes, not renowned for their psychic abilities.
Matt Damon plays a blue collar worker who has spurned his intuitive gift in favor of labor. He used to be a famous psychic, but now chooses to be anonymous and his brother encourages him to return to this potentially lucrative life. As the movie progresses and we see the interaction between him and Bryce Dallas Howard, (Ron Howard's daughter), we understand how his gift which is activated by touch, blocks him from true intimacy and prevents him from having a proper romantic relationship.
I particularly enjoyed watching the San Francisco sequences. The bar scene between Matt Damon, and his brother played by Jay Mohr was filmed at the Final Final, my local bar, and he sits at the exact same spot I often sit at. In fact, I had a near Clint experience. He left the bar, after one of the patrons got a little out of control, and I arrived twenty minutes later. Darn..Can you imagine. Clint Eastwood practically at your doorstep, and you miss him.
I loved watching the local scenes, many of the interior shots were filmed in real locations, you get the sense of an ordinary cramped walk up apartment in San Francisco, and the flash of the Hobart Building, and real office space within that building. This adds to the authenticity of the movie. How many movies have you seen where somebody has a regular job yet lives in a fancy loft.
A couple of scenes in this movie I thought were remarkable, one where where he spoon feeds her while she is blindfolded. I also love the scene where he gives the final reading, and ad libs a comforting message even though you can tell from his facial expression that he has lost the connection. Even real psychics can be fake sometimes. Beautifully played.
It's worth mentioning that other than Matt Damon, this cast is mostly full of unknowns, the standard of the actors is amazing. English actress, Lyndsey Marshal demonstrates tremendous presence, as Martin's mother. Bryce Dallas Howard though young looks like a long ago movie star. Cecile de France, the Belgian born French actress, has a certain chic appeal, and is a well established actress.
If you are like me sometimes when you see a movie, you forget about it almost immediately, I find myself still thinking about this one a week later. If you are curious to go see this one, you still won't know what you don't already know.
If you like this movie, I recommend Aftershock, which has some parallels with this movie. Set in China, instead of a tsunami we have an earthquake, and a mother is faced with the crushing dilemma of only being able to save one of her twin children the girl or the boy. By lifting the concrete beam under which they are trapped one will be saved, and the other will die. Based on the real event of the Tangshan earthquake in which 240,000 people perished, it's one of the most powerful of the year, and sure to be nominated for best foreign movie.
I think you will love it, and I hope this was helpful.