It’s the beginning of Oscar season, and that means another film by venerable actor/director Clint Eastwood is out in theaters. Hereafter is a film about death and its effect on life. Three parallel stories all explore this
clichéd way-too-universal-to-ever-be-clichéd theme.
The reviews haven’t been terribly kind, with many attacking its pace and sentimentality. Roger Ebert, however, believes Hereafter to be “a deeper and more subtle film than many will realize.”
In a recent entry in his Sun-Times blog, Ebert uses Hereafter as a launching pad to discuss psychic mediums and fortune tellers and how our eternal fascination with the great beyond perpetuates the need for these roles in society.
Ebert refuses to deal directly with religion, explaining early that “I expect to experience no more after death than I experienced before birth.” He doesn’t wish to invest himself in afterlife theories he can’t prove – why risk that disappointment? Instead, he relishes the opportunity to focus on the time he knows he’ll be spending on Earth. This pleasant agnosticism allows Ebert to enjoy Hereafter for what it is, which is not a movie about the afterlife, but “the common human need for there to be an afterlife.”
If you were unenthused by the ponderous trailers and left cool by the negative reviews, give Ebert’s blog a read. It certainly piqued my interest in a film I expected to simply vanish into thin air. By the way, he gave it four stars.