Clint Eastwood‘s films have been less-is-more propositions all along. They’re never been complicated or cluttered or tricky; all the moves are straight from the shoulder. But in Invictus and now, especially, Hereafter, there’s been a detection of a less-is-less thing going on. I’m sorry to say this, but I don’t sense a strengthening at work here. I feel a lack of inquiry and vigor and snap — a lack of focus and demand, perhaps a little too much of a “good enough, this’ll do” attitude.

Eastwood has spoken before about not believing in succumbing to “constipation through concentration.” He doesn’t believe in making himself crazy. He believes in action, cut, print…next. But you have to suffer a little bit for your art. You always have to sweat it somewhat. Art isn’t easy.

Hereafter is probably Eastwood’s weakest film ever. I’m convinced it’s not as good as Breezy, a William Holden-Kay Lenz romantic drama Clint directed back in ’73 or thereabouts, and which is never brought up when they discuss Eastwood’s work-behind-the-camera. I think it’s fairly decent, though, and I wish, frankly, that the guy who directed that film or Play Misty For Me or High Plains Drifter or The Outlaw Josey Wales or The Rookie, even, was a little more evident today.

My e-mailed Hereafter review from two days ago: “Nope. Banal. Okay, so-so, mild, auto-pilot, meh. Matt Damon is good — I believed his readings and conveyances. But some of the dialogue (including some of Damon’s) is too flat, too on-the-nose. And those teardrops falling down those cheeks…twice! I will however give points — everyone will — to the Southeast Asian tsunami sequence that opens the film. It’s quite thrilling, scary…although it does, truth be told, ‘look’ like CG.”