Clint Eastwood‘s Hereafter, which screens at the Toronto Film Festival on Sunday (with an alleged press screening on Saturday), “has a big, harrowing special-effects scene early on and reserves its third act for something far less bombastic,” reports the L.A. Times‘ Geoff Boucher.
Clint Eastwood during filming of Hereafter.
Screenwriter Peter Morgan says “he wrote a different ending that would have a grander scale,” Bouncher writes. “Everyone agreed, though, that in the final analysis, Hereafter was going to keep its unconventional contours.
“‘The classic thinking is you can’t peter out in your third act, you have to go bigger, and the other classic Hollywood thinking is that all the questions have to be answered,’ says Hereafter star Matt Damon. ‘Is it clear enough? I don’t want an 8-year-old to come see this and not know what’s going on. With Clint, his process is free of all that grist mill. He can do something that has a different shape. It wouldn’t occur to him to have a giant set piece in the third act because, well, this story doesn’t require it.'”
That’s it — I’m in love with this film. Seriously. When’s the last time a mainstream feature didn’t end with the usual required grand crescendo?
“At the age I am now, I just don’t have any interest in going back and doing the same sort of thing over and over, that’s one of the reasons I moved away from westerns,” Eastwood tells Boucher. “The question about what happens after we die is something that we all ask and when I read [Morgan’s] script it was so intelligent and I knew right away that I wanted to do it.”
Hereafter (Warner Bros., 10.22) “is a cinematic triptych with the separate stories of battered souls searching for answers about the afterlife — there’s a reluctant Bay Area psychic (Damon), a London youngster (Frankie McLaren) grieving the death of his twin brother and a French journalist (Belgium-born actress Cecile de France) who was caught up in a tsunami, killed by the raging water and then revived after a strange, spectral experience.
“‘It’s a spiritual story but there are no real religious connotations to it,’ Eastwood said. ‘The [major religions] are kind of unsatisfying to the kid in our story because he’s looking for something that can answer his questions. He wants a straight answer and he can’t seem to find anything from people who turn out to be either psychics looking for a fast buck or people just talking…you don’t really see movies like this these days that have a spiritual aspect or a romantic aspect. And it is romantic. These days you have a lot of movies about people jumping on each other in the sack but we don’t have that. This is more about attraction.”
Hereafter is “also a movie that, because of Eastwood’s age, will be read by many as an artistic statement about his turning toward his own mortality. He pondered that notion for a moment but found any insight elusive. ‘I’d like to think I would have made this movie when I was 30 or 40 too, because it’s a good story. I don’t know. I was more of an actor who directed back then and now I’m more of a director who acts. Or occasionally acts. Or maybe never acts.'”