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Movie Review: Hereafter

Hereafter DVD on Amazon when available

Article first published as Movie Review: Hereafter on Blogcritics.

The movie review that follows this new introduction took a lot of heat. People thought it was a bad review. Clint Eastwood is on CBS News Sunday Morning and when asked what happens after death he replied “I haven’t the foggiest idea.” That’s how his movie reads too.  But  I did not want to give it a bad review but a totally ambiguous review.

At The Trough the link “The Daily Lama” was inspired during my visit to New Mexico this summer (I have posted photos of the stupa with me standing in front) where I stayed with my elderly aunt. Well she is not elderly exactly, but 11 years older than myself. She was my bulwark growing up, my defender, my friend from many past lives.

We were Satsangis together for over 20 years, now she was a Buddhist which is not a far leap from Sant Mat. I asked her why she was so absorbed into Buddhism these days.  Her response ” I want to be ready for my death.”  That is what Buddhism is all about going to your next life after death. Is there an intermediate stage? Yes, it’s called the Bardo. But for the advanced the goal is to remain conscious from one death to the next body that Buddhists and myself KNOW is waiting.

There are reasons why some do not go directly to a new body but most do. I tracked down the laws that govern the soul’s journey from one body to the next in my book  Dinner With DaVinci, It represents over 30 years of study and journaling about my life which I was able to mine for divine knowledge about my past lives and how the laws are the real change agents. The laws take us from here to there.

The original review:

 You will meet a tall, dark psychic in Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter. He has done it again and adds to his film hit list by creating another gifted genre movie about uneasy psychic George Lonegan (Matt Damon).  Peter Morgan’s screenplay fares well under Eastwood’s direction.The film follows the lives of three individuals in different cities in different countries, seeking answers to life’s greatest paradox: is there life after death? The seekers have never met and on the face of it, not a part of the same equation.

George, the loner, worries about job security in San Francisco. In France Marie Lelay (Cecile De France), the journalist, fears the boot by France’s biggest publisher Didier (Thierry Neuvic) and worries about her job security. In London a mom worries about keeping her job as mother to identical twins Marcus/Jason (Frankie McLaren and George McLaren ). Clint’s job is to connect this people bazaar with karmic ties that land them in the same city meet-up at the end.

Death-and-loss themes run through this film but Eastwood keeps it at arm’s length. That’s a good thing because Clint is reassuring his audience while raising directly death at every age. He introduces the idea of reincarnation or rebirth.  Here Clint paints with flat finish rather than a shiny one that only a psychic can divine. Speaking of divine—God does not have a role in Hereafter. He is never mentioned nor is there love for Asia after the tsunami. No eating in George’s cooking class in Frisco and just a wisp of praying at a funeral in London.  

So how does Eastwood introduce reincarnation and life after death? One way is through George. He is obsessed with and falls asleep to the readings of Charles Dickens. That love changes his life in unexpected ways. And where does George get this ability in the first place? He explains it as an operation gone badly. Simultaneously, in France, there’s talk of a “silent conspiracy” against those who make clinical studies of the NDE or near-death experience.

The recreation of the December 26, 2004 tsunami is a heavy piece of history that most recall. The tsunami event, in an unnamed city, explores the NDE in beautiful sequences. Here Marie dies and recalls something while she is gone—a very hazy vision and feeling of floating.  Is that all? I did not get it. I found it to be no more than a mediator’s forgotten dream experience, unconvincing, nice try.

This film is set in the present and is more about how distraction or obsession with death is not a way to win friends or influence people. Life moves upside down for the three protagonists: a young twin will lose his brother, a French journalist will lose her job, and George’s dock job will dry up. He tries to take up a normal life and new line of work, but can’t escape his calling to talk to the dead.

What conclusions does Clint profess? He presents nothing different from what most orthodox religions believe: that people go somewhere but can still be reached somehow by the right psychic. In this case, George needs only hold hands to make an instant connection to pivotal events in a person’s life. Some  unnerved while others beg for his touch.

I have to tell you that Matt’s George is a beautifully nuanced performance. He is an ordinary person with an extraordinary gift: connecting to the dearly departed. While there is nothing original about Eastwood’s premise that the dress rehearsals for death aka NDEs are new. I do not find much merit in the so-called NDE. So why dwell on it?  

On the other hand, in Clint’s film the NDE does not even make sense to this psychic. In fact while I know that the only way that people can have the type of karmic ties portrayed in Hereafter is if they were forged in former lives, That is my problem with this film from a spiritual point of view. I think Clint should have been a little bolder in addressing reincarnation and take a more critical look at the NDE instead of this uncertain approach to a certain event–death.


Matt Damon as George does not find love in this film, not even a kiss. What’s up with these movies? He does meet a woman at a cooking class where they DO NOT EAT  but taste foods and have to tell which is which. She begs him for a date. They go to his apt. in San Fran and when he touches her hand after she demands a reading, he reads that she has been molested by her father and that her mother is dead.

Interesting that is what happened to me also. I was molested and my mother died young. The woman freaks out and they never see each other again.

The other people in the story ARE in no way related to each other.  At the end they all meet up in London but it is a real stretch. He is after the women who, Belgian actress, who claims a NDE after drowning and being revived in a tsunami. She gets fired from her job because she can no longer concentrate and writes a book about her NDE instead of a book about politician Francois Mitterrand. They are mad but she writes a book that does get published and goes to the book fair in London.

Here’s where they all meet. Matt tracks her down to her hotel room and leaves her a 3 page letter. He waits for her in an outside coffee house. Again, that is part of my story because I met a man in India with whom I had a lot of  karma and stayed with him in Paris the next summer. But nothing came of it.

So, in this story, Matt sees them kissing in a vision as she approaches. He stands up and they meet outside and  that’s the end. No kissing, no sex, no conclusions at all about life after death. Clint you need  me.