Blind expectations – Have you ever felt lost after watching a trailer for an upcoming film; the kind of trailer that does such a good job at giving nothing away, that you have no clue what’s really about? I felt this way after watching the trailer for “Hereafter,” which really gave me no choice but to want to see the film out of pure curiosity. Depending on the final box office return, that was either a brilliant marketing campaign or a mistake by the producers, but I still would have preferred a more intrusive trailer. Because at the end the day, most people will go into this film blind, expecting a certain Clint Eastwoodswagger which really never comes. What you get instead are three incredible stories, all built around an underlying theme that gets better and better the longer you watch.

What was it about?  Although you don’t know it at first, the stories here actually are connected, just not in an obvious way. They each follow one central idea, which is the “after life” or “life after death” and what that means to different people.  It all begins with Marie Lelay (Cecile de France), a popular French TV journalist who falls’ victim to a devastating tsunami off the cost of India. With truly no chance of survival, she is somehow pulled out of the water and brought back to life; but not before having visions in a realm of light while under and essentially dead. Meanwhile, over in San Francisco, there’s George Lonnegan (Matt Damon), a former psychic who is attempting to move on with his life; but after a couple inopportune reading’s, George realizes he cannot go back to the life that left him isolated to begin with, thus forcing him to run away to London. Turns out, the capital city was home to one of George’s favorite writer’s, Charles Dickens. But, that’s not all London featured, as it also was home to 12-year-old twins Jason and Marcus (George McLaren and Frankie McLaren), who were dealing with their own problems of hiding their drug-induced, alcoholic mother (Lyndsey Marshal) from child protective services each week.  That was until one trip to the pharmacy by Jason went terribly wrong, changing everything for Marcus and his mother forever. It was then this film took a turn into the unknown, as all three stories converged in an unfathomable way at the London Book Fair, resulting in a visionary conclusion that will leave you quite satisfied.

Who was in it?  For those not going to see this film because of Clint Eastwood, I would expect Matt Damon might be their reason. But, this is not your ordinary role for Damon. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen him in anything like this before.  Going in, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but for the most part, Damon pulled off the often confused role as a psychic. He certainly drew you into his character’s world, which is really all you can ask, right? I mean, with something as unknown as this premise, it’s hard to give a whole lot of accolades to any one person, because so many of us have little to no knowledge on the subject.  With that said, I could easily see an Oscar nod go to Cecile De France for her role as Marie. She was fabulous in so many ways and really sort of carried this film with her character’s story. I didn’t realize that until after I walked out the theater, but she managed to handle all the uneasiness of her character’s unprecedented situation like it was nothing. I was impressed and quite honestly, would have loved to have seen more of her, as she just had this natural way of bringing you into everything she was doing on the big screen.

Forbidden premise – There’s no doubt this is a topic many directors’ would never tackle for a film. And I guarantee that will get lost in the overwhelming void that people will be left with after watching it. And that’s mostly because they won’t know how to take it based on the invalid expectations they walked in with. The reality is no one truly knows what happens after death. Not even Clint, who at the ripe old age of 80 just keeps on truckin’ in a career that I feel, is not as appreciated as you think it would be. Sure, people who grew up watching Clint, the actor, will think of him differently than say someone like me who really has only seen the amazing work he has done behind the camera. In either instance, Eastwood deserves some credit for always providing a film that will mean something to someone. It may not always fell are ‘warm and fuzzy,’ but Clint really doesn’t care. He enjoys the process of making motion pictures and if that wasn’t evident in the opening sequence of this film, I don’t what is, as I was absolutely blown away with his camerawork and effects. Combine that with how well he managed the three stories and you might forget Clint was directing the film. It’s no secret this type of film is new to the grizzly Hollywood vet, so for it to look and feel this good should tell you everything you need to know.

Bottom Line – At the end of the day,“Hereafter” is not what you think is; well, so what. I actually think that was a good thing. Problem is, most people won’t, feeling as if they were somehow fooled into watching it, erasing any chance of them actually enjoying a film that was a whole lot better than it looked. So, take my word for it and just go see it, as I doubt you will be disappointed in what Clint has done.

B+