Hereafter weaves together the story of three strangers who are each profoundly affected by death.

Matt Damon plays George Lonegan, a lonely man who can communicate with the dead, an ability that he doesn’t view as a gift but a curse that has isolated him from those around him and prevented love from coming into his life. Cécile De France is Marie LeLay, a famous, French television journalist whose entire existence is turned upside down after she briefly experiences death during a tsunami she miraculously survives. Frankie McLaren is Marcus, a young, English boy gripped by sorrow after suffering the loss of a family member.

It is Marcus’s story of seemingly insurmountable mourning for a loved one that is the most emotionally riveting. His pain is palpable and heartbreaking, as is his desire to make contact once again with the person he has lost. Matt Damon does an excellent job of conveying the isolation of a man with an incredible gift who longs for a normal life but is trapped by the power of his incredible ability.

The movie moves back and forth between these three people and while their stories are interesting, there is a muted tone to the movie; a feeling of being at a distance that doesn’t quite let you in. The film strongly suggests that there is a form of life or awareness after death. But, this world filled with bright light and weightlessness is a vague and shadowy notion. Is there life after death? We don’t know. We’re left with the question and the search for a deeper meaning. I don’t expect the movie to answer this question but with such a fascinating and profound idea at its center the problem is that at the end I don’t walk out deeply affected by this universal unknown.

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