It's that time of the year again, time for Clint Eastwood ("Invictus" and "Million Dollar Baby") to release this year's Academy Award contender. Well, I suspect he won't be in the running this time. His latest outing is very good but not very involving, and Mr. E. himself has set the bar so high....

As the title implies, we explore his perception of the "Hereafter" through the eyes and minds of three widely disparate people, linked only by their individual experiences with death on three different continents. Of course this movie isn't limited to just three characters, so let's look at the cast and their roles in this story:
  • Matt Damon ("The Informant!") is a blue-collar worker in the United States cursed with the power to see "beyond." After a brief notoriety for this ability, he now lives in semi-seclusion, unable to forge any meaningful relationships.
  • Jay Mohr (mostly TV) is his brother, eager to exploit the possibilities...
  • Bryce Dallas Howard ("Eclipse") is his cooking class teammate, who serves to illustrate why Damon sees his ability as a curse.
  • Cécile De France ("Avenue Montaigne") is a television journalist on vacation in Indonesia with her lover when the tsunami hits.
  • Frankie and George McLaren, in their film debut, are inseparable identical twins who live with their drug-addicted mother in London.
Over his brother's protests, Damon's character just wants to live a normal life; our French journalist is compelled to seek an understanding of her near-death experience; the identical twins are desperately lonely.

Of course there are many things to applaud, e.g., the performances are terrific and the tsunami is masterfully done, I just wish they hadn't stooped to that old cliché, the teddy bear! Aarghhh! On the other hand, the dialog leaves much to be desired. I have hearing problems, so I liked the French episodes best because there were subtitles. I'll probably check this out of the library when it is released on DVD to see what I missed.