Reviewed by: Thaisha Geiger
Death in the Bible
NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES—Who is the being of light encountered in near-death experiences? Answer
Eternal death in the Bible
Is there an actual place called “Hell”? Answer
Are you good enough to get to Heaven? Answer
How good is good enough? Answer
Will all mankind eventually be saved? Answer
Is there anyone in Hell today? Answer
Can people really communicate with the dead? Answer
What is the Occult? Answer
THE OCCULT—What does the Bible say about it? Answer
How can we know there’s a God? Answer
What if the cosmos is all that there is? Answer
How do we know the Bible is true? Answer
|Featuring:||Matt Damon (George Lonegan), Bryce Dallas Howard (Melanie), Cécile De France (Marie LeLay), Thierry Neuvic (Didier), more »|
|Producer:||The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Malpaso Productions, Clint Eastwood, Kathleen Kennedy, Robert Lorenz, Frank Marshall, Tim Moore, Peter Morgan, Steven Spielberg|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“Is there an afterlife?”
There’s at least one thing that all humans share: we’re delicately mortal. Despite this, we’ll often postpone thoughts of this grim fact and go about planning our hectic days in the always-expected tomorrow. Occasionally, a sudden death or well-covered catastrophe will soberly remind us of life’s brevity. While some might anger towards God, others are humbled and will sing songs of praise. In Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter,” the topic is death and the afterlife. What happens when someone dies? Do all lights go out or is there something more?
The movie revolves around three characters and how they all uniquely deal with death. There’s George (Matt Damon), an awkwardly social, but gentle man who can genuinely speak to the dead and even see visions upon touching someone. Abandoning the rich life his psychic ability brought, he happily settles with a 9-to-5 job. Though George’s brother greedily insists on the continuation of readings, George views his ability as more of a curse.
On opposite spectrums are Marie (Cécile De France) and Marcus (Frankie/George McLaren). Marie is a successful and beautiful French reporter. While on vacation, her life unexpectedly changes, when she is caught and drowned by a massive tsunami. Before being resuscitated, she has a near-death experience and is unable to resume her normal life.
When pressured to take time off, she begins to research near-death experiences and soon becomes ostracized for digging deep in what’s considered to be a taboo subject.
On the other hand, Marcus has almost nothing, save the relationship with his identical twin, Jason. Together, they maintain some semblance of a home and ward off Child Services as their mother remains a drug addict. When Jason dies, Marcus is left utterly alone and desperately seeks how to contact his brother.
Viewing films of this kind requires a particular taste. “Hereafter” is primarily character driven, a quiet, self-learning journey with little action. Though their fates are destined to intertwine, time is taken to manifest each character’s passage with meaningful subtleties. With this said, some viewers may find the film’s over two-hour run especially tedious. Though occasionally slow, the acting is top notch. Barely taking ten minutes of screen time, Bryce Dallas Howard emerges as one of the better performances in the film.
“Hereafter” seemingly attempts to remain neutral on the topic of the afterlife. There’s no mention of God, and Marcus briefly watches a YouTube clip of a Muslim and Christian speaking of death. With the exception of these two clips, no religion is debated or mentioned. Even Marie’s boyfriend oddly looks at her when she asks what he believes happens after one dies, as if he himself had never thought of it before.
However, the film does expressly point out how humans desperately long to communicate with their deceased loved ones. Some time is even taken to poke fun at the absurd slew of self-proclaimed mediums that take advantage of this notion.
FAQ: Can people really communicate with the dead? Answer
In the film, the “hereafter” is a hazy-like room where clusters of people simply walk around without any worries about judgment or accountability for wrongdoings (Hebrews 9:27). George’s psychic abilities are also portrayed as being real. Though the film does depict George as unhappy after consultations, his readings are sometimes shown in a positive, soothing light. The most touching story is that of Marcus and how he desperately seeks a way to communicate with his dead brother. The stellar script and performances make it easy to yearn for Marcus to find a way to reach Jason, so that he may have closure and move on. Despite any intent, one must never attempt to communicate with the dead. In Isaiah 8:19-20, it reads:
“And when they say to you, ‘Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,’ should not a people seek their God? Should they seek the dead on behalf of the living? To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
Besides the heavy topic of death, “Hereafter” has relatively low offensive content. There are about 5 profanities, including 2 sh*t, B.S., 1 “f” word, cr*p, G*d (2), “Oh my G*d.”
One character is shown waking up next to her boyfriend and briefly shown in her undergarments in two scenes as she dresses. Refreshingly, there aren’t any sex scenes, and the film’s one kissing scene is sweet, rather than passionate.
I don’t personally recommend the film. The first hour was rather enjoyable with the establishment of characters and their journeys. As the movie progressed, however, the speaking with the dead became a bit redundant, along with the false sense of closure and hope it brought to one of the characters. True peace and hope comes in believing in Christ and searching out the will of God. Romans 15:13 remains one of my favorite verses of God-filled hope:
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.