Hereafter (film)

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Directed by Clint Eastwood
Produced by Clint Eastwood
Kathleen Kennedy
Robert Lorenz
Steven Spielberg (executive)
Written by Peter Morgan
Starring Matt Damon
Cécile de France
Music by Clint Eastwood
Cinematography Tom Stern
Editing by Joel Cox
Gary D. Roach
Studio Kennedy/Marshall
Malpaso Productions
Amblin Entertainment (uncredited)
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • October 22, 2010 (2010-10-22)
Running time 129 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $50 million[1]
Box office $105,197,635[2]

Hereafter is a 2010 American supernatural drama fantasy film directed, co-produced, and scored by Clint Eastwood, written by Peter Morgan and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. The film tells three parallel stories about three people affected by death in similar ways - all three have issues of communicating with the dead; Matt Damon plays American factory worker, George, who is able to communicate with the dead and who has worked professionally as a clairvoyant, but no longer wants to communicate with the dead; Cécile de France plays French television journalist, Marie, who survives a near-death experience during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami; and twins Marcus and Jason (played by Frankie and George McLaren), British boys touched by tragedy when Jason dies. Bryce Dallas Howard, Lyndsey Marshal, Jay Mohr, and Thierry Neuvic have supporting roles.

Morgan sold the script on spec to DreamWorks in 2008, but it transferred to Warner Bros. by the time Eastwood (who has a long-standing relationship with Warner Bros.) had signed on to direct in 2009. Principal photography ran from October 2009 to February 2010 on locations in London, San Francisco, Paris, and Hawaii.

Hereafter premiered as a "Special Presentation" at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010. The film was given a limited release on October 15, 2010 and was released across North America on October 22, 2010. It was a box office success, but received mixed reviews, while critics praised the plot and acting performances, the movie suffers with a lack of focus on the story.


Marie Lelay[edit]

On assignment in Thailand, French television journalist Marie Lelay (Cécile de France) is shopping for souvenirs for her lover's children. Back in a hotel room, her lover Didier (Thierry Neuvic) looks over the balcony and witnesses the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami coming onshore. It hits as Marie watches from a distance. She runs away from the shore while trying to save a little girl, but they are both quickly swallowed by the wave. She is pulled lifeless from the water by two men who attempt resuscitation, but they give up when it apparently fails. She soon gasps back to life after having a near-death experience in which she sees a vision of human figures inhabiting a realm of light, among them the silhouettes of the girl, whom she wasn't able to save, and her mother holding hands.

Marie and Didier manage to reunite in the aftermath of the disaster, and they return to Paris. Her experience, however, interferes with her work, pressuring her and exhausting her to the point that Didier, who is also her producer and supervisor, sends her on a leave of absence to write the book they've discussed, which would add to her business prestige. Marie sells her idea of a new book and receives complete backing for the book. She celebrates by going to dinner and asks Didier what he thinks happens when they die. He answers that it's "lights out" and nothing else. Marie believes that there may be a hereafter where there is life on the other side.

Now writing a book and with more time to contemplate her near-death experience, Marie travels to Switzerland to meet a renowned specialist in the field. As the director of a hospice who has seen her share of dying patients, the doctor describes herself as a former atheist who was convinced by evidence experienced by Marie through her patients that the afterlife exists and that people like Marie have had a genuine view of it. She persuades Marie to write a book on her experience in the hope that the scientific community will ultimately accept the reality of life beyond death. Having been in talks with a publisher before her trip to Thailand about a biography of François Mitterrand, Marie now stuns them with her new manuscript entitled "Hereafter: A Conspiracy of Silence". The publisher rejects the manuscript, insisting that his company only publishes books with political themes and that her switching the content is unacceptable. Marie leaves her office humiliated.

Later that evening at dinner with Didier, Marie recounts her humiliation at the publisher's office, lamenting that she should just write her book as a hobby on her own time and return to work at the television show. Didier is evasive and Marie learns that he does not intend on having her back at the job from which he urged her to take leave, claiming her public interest in the hereafter damages her reputation as a serious journalist. Stunned and hurt, she asks if he is having an affair with the woman who has replaced her on the TV news program. He responds with telling silence and she abruptly leaves the restaurant. Just as she arrives, totally dejected, back at her apartment, the publisher calls to tell her that he knows of two publishers who would be interested in her book. She sends out manuscripts to the two publishers the next day.

George Lonegan[edit]

In San Francisco, former professional psychic George Lonegan (Matt Damon) is persuaded against his wishes to perform a reading for Christos (Richard Kind), a wealthy client of his brother Billy (Jay Mohr). A genuine medium with a gift for communicating with the dead, George abandoned his old career because he was unable to deal with the emotional impact of the reunions and the often disturbingly intimate family secrets revealed in front of him. While doing the reading, George hears the word June and asks if a date in June means anything to him. Christos at first denies that it means anything, but privately reveals to Billy that June was the name of his late wife's nurse, with whom he was in love for 10 years. Afterwards, Billy pressures George to get back into the business of doing readings; he insists that George has a "gift" and an obligation to help people. George explains that his "gift" is actually a curse, and that the process is extremely painful for him and the people around him.

George enrolls in a cooking class taught by one of San Francisco's leading chefs. Its students are paired-up, resulting in George being partnered with a young woman named Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard). The two soon hit it off. He is returning to his apartment when confronted by a neighbor of Christos who begs for him to perform a psychic reading in order to talk to her baby again. He refuses.

After attending their second class, George and Melanie decide to put their new culinary skills to use by preparing an Italian dinner at George's place. All goes well until they hear an ill-timed phone message from his brother, which inclines George to reveal his past as a psychic to Melanie. He explains how he fell ill as a child and that during surgery to save him, he suffered brain damage which left him with migraines and the psychic ability, which doctors diagnosed as a form of schizophrenia. He has medication to stop the visions, but does not take it because it robs him of the ability to feel anything. Curious, she presses George to do a reading for her. George explains his reluctance, since he knows it will destroy any chance for a relationship between them. Melanie is insistent, however, and George acquiesces. They contact the spirit of Melanie's mother.

During the first cooking class together, George receives a vision from Melanie when he accidentally touched her. He now reveals it was her father, who was asking her forgiveness for what he did to her as a child. Melanie flees George's home in tears. Saddened, George toys with the idea of taking the medication but instead just deals with his sadness and difficulty with sleeping by listening to audiobook versions of Charles Dickens novels as read by Derek Jacobi. George is laid off from his factory job, and is persuaded by Billy to revive his psychic practice. At the next cooking class, Melanie does not show up.


In London, 12-year-old twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie McLaren and George McLaren) try desperately to prevent social services from taking them away from their dysfunctional and single mother, Jackie (Lyndsey Marshal), a heavy heroin addict. After evading the police authorities yet again, Jackie sends Jason to the local chemist to pick up her detox prescription. On the way home, Jason is attacked by street thugs, and while trying to escape, he is hit by a van and killed. Marcus hears the commotion through Jason's cell phone and arrives at the accident, horrified to find that his brother has died.

No longer able to protect his mother, and barely able to cope with life without the brother he idolizes, Marcus is sent to a foster home, away from his mother. In his new foster family, Marcus refuses to speak to anyone. He is distant at school and barely does much of anything. He becomes hopeful that there is some way to talk to his brother again. Desperate for one last reunion with his twin brother, Marcus steals money from his foster parents and goes around London seeking psychics to help him contact Jason. Most of the mediums he encounters are either outright frauds or their methods don't work. While he is trying to board the underground at Charing Cross, Jason's cap, which has become a talisman for Marcus, blows off his head. Delayed by trying to find the cap, he misses his train and sees it explode in the tunnel during the 2005 London Bombings.

London Book Fair[edit]

Still convinced that his ability is a curse, George abandons Billy and his plans for a psychic business and leaves San Francisco for London. There, he visits the Dickens House and learns of a live reading of Dickens by Derek Jacobi that same day at the London Book Fair. While there, he meets Marie who is at the fair promoting and signing her book. While handing a signed copy of her book to George, their hands touch and George has a psychic flash of Marie's near-death experience.

Marcus and his foster parents are also at the London Book Fair to meet their previous foster son, who is there in his new job as a security guard. While there, Marcus spots George whom he remembered back from when he was searching for psychics online. Marcus attempts to speak with George, who brushes him off and returns to his hotel. Undeterred, Marcus follows him back and stands vigil outside his window until George eventually agrees to do his reading.

Through George, Jason tells Marcus that he is happy in the afterlife. He instructs Marcus to stop wearing his cap and says that is why he knocked it off his head at the train station, which had the side effect of saving him from the bomb. Jason tells Marcus he must now stand on his own but not to fear this "because we are one". Marcus later visits his mother in a rehabilitation center. She is visibly better, and he is not wearing Jason's cap. As compensation for helping him, Marcus lets George know where Marie is staying. George visits the hotel and leaves an anonymous note for Marie, saying he believes her book to be true. She decides to join the anonymous fan for lunch and discovers George. While she is looking for him, George sees a vision of them kissing and holding hands, with the curse/gift gone, and George with some kind of a normal life. The film ends with the two just sitting down to talk close to where George imagined them kissing.


NYFF 2010 "Hereafter" Press Conference
  • Matt Damon as George Lonegan, an American factory worker and "a reluctant psychic [...] who can speak to the dead but prefers not to".[3][4] Damon previously starred in Eastwood's Invictus, and was cast in Hereafter because Eastwood was so impressed by him.[5] The original Hereafter production schedule clashed with Damon's filming commitments to The Adjustment Bureau, so he emailed Eastwood, suggesting that the director recast the role of George for either Christian Bale, Casey Affleck, Hayden Christensen or Josh Brolin. Instead, Eastwood altered the filming schedule to accommodate Damon, and the actor was able to complete both films.[6]
  • Cécile de France as Marie Lelay, a French television journalist who survives a tsunami.[3][7]
  • Frankie and George McLaren as Marcus and Jason, twin brothers. Jason is killed in a car accident early in the film, and Marcus later attempts to contact him in the afterlife.[8] Eastwood selected the two actors to play the brothers despite them having never acted before because he did not want "child actors who'd been over-instructed in Child Acting 101."[6]
  • Lyndsey Marshal as Jackie, Marcus and Jason's mother, a heroin addict.[7]
  • Thierry Neuvic as Didier, Marie's lover. Neuvic was on holiday in Corsica in September 2009 when he was called to audition for a role in the film. His audition, which took place at a Paris hotel, lasted 15 minutes, and he read two scenes for Eastwood. Most of Neuvic's scenes were filmed in Paris.[9]
  • Jay Mohr as Billy Lonegan, George's older brother.[10]
  • Bryce Dallas Howard as Melanie, a woman with whom George tries to start a relationship.[6][11]
  • Mylène Jampanoï[12] as Reporter Jasmine
  • Marthe Keller as a doctor and the director of a hospice in Switzerland who speaks with Marie.
  • Derek Jacobi appears as himself.[13] He reads Charles Dickens' Little Dorrit at the London Book Fair.
  • Niamh Cusack[14] as Marcus' foster mother
  • George Costigan as Marcus' foster father
  • Richard Kind as Christos Andreou, a wealthy client of Billy's who asks Billy for George's psychic assistance to communicate with his late wife.
  • Jean-Yves Berteloot as Michel, Marie's publisher.
  • Steven R. Schirripa as Carlos, the cooking instructor
  • Jenifer Lewis[15] as Candace, Christos' neighbor of whom he tells about George's psychic reading; she comes to ask for his assistance in contacting her dead child.
  • Mathew Baynton as a College Receptionist


Peter Morgan wrote the script on spec, and it was bought by DreamWorks in March 2008. The deal was reportedly worth a "low-seven-figure advance".[16] Executive producer Steven Spielberg was initially concerned that the low-key ending to the script would put audiences off the film, so Morgan rewrote it to be grander. However, subsequent drafts restored the original ending.[17] Following its split from Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks retained the script, and began talks with Clint Eastwood to direct. Eastwood was signed on in November 2008.[18] By the time of Matt Damon's casting in 2009, the script was being developed under the supervision of Eastwood's Malpaso Productions for Warner Bros.. Eastwood was attracted to the script because he was keen to direct a supernatural thriller, and liked how Morgan incorporated real-world events into fiction. Eastwood told LA Weekly, "There's a certain charlatan aspect to the hereafter, to those who prey on people's beliefs that there's some afterlife, and mankind doesn't seem to be willing to accept that this is your life and you should do the best you can with it and enjoy it while you’re here, and that'll be enough. There has to be immortality or eternal life and embracing some religious thing. I don't have the answer. Maybe there is a hereafter, but I don't know, so I approach it by not knowing. I just tell the story."[8]

Production was based in the United Kingdom, due to tax incentives and funding from the UK Film Council, though filming locations spanned three countries.[17][19][20] Filming commenced in France on October 19, 2009.[7] A days filming was done at the old Belle Epoque, Le Grand Hôtel-Restaurant du Montenvers, in the village of Planet, near Chamonix. The hotel building was transformed into a Swiss hospice for scenes between Cécile de France and Marthe Keller. A cordon was set up around the area to prevent local residents and paparazzi taking photographs of the set, though the mayor of Chamonix was allowed through for a brief meeting with Eastwood.[12] Production then moved to Paris for four days.[12] On October 21, a short scene between de France and Mylène Jampanoï was filmed in a stairwell inside the France Télévisions building.[21]

In the first week of November, production moved to London for three weeks of filming in locations including Bermondsey and in Walworth. Scenes were also filmed on the Heygate Estate.[22] On November 7, scenes were filmed in Petticoat Lane Market and at the Cafe Le Jardin in Bell Lane.[23][24] Scenes were also filmed in an auditorium at Red Lion Square and at Camberwell New Cemetery.[25] The room was redressed to represent a fictional Center For Psychic Advancement, which the Marcus character visits.[8] De France filmed the underwater scene in a studio tank at Pinewood Studios.[26] After these scenes were shot, production was halted, as Matt Damon was working on another film.[27]

Filming resumed on January 12, 2010; Eastwood filmed scenes with de France for three days on the Hawaiian island of Maui.[28] On the first day, scenes were filmed in the lobby and guest rooms of the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa in Kaanapali.[29] On January 13, scenes were filmed on Front Street in Lahaina. A hundred crew worked on the scenes.[28][30] The location managers were given permission by Lahaina authorities to close a small section of the street in order to film scenes depicting "an unnamed, South Pacific-type outdoor marketplace, complete with outdoor shopping stalls and street vendors".[30] The location manager explained to the Lahaina News, "Front Street's proximity to the water and the architecture of its buildings help supply a look that will require much less transformation towards this goal than other locations which were under consideration".[30] The street was closed off to vehicles on the evening of January 12.[30] The scene—the first scene of the film—depicts Cécile de France's character coming out of her hotel just as a tsunami hits the island. The aftermath of the tsunami was filmed on January 14 at a property in Kapalua. [31]

Production next moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. On January 19, scenes featuring Damon were shot at the California and Hawaiian Sugar Company refinery in Crockett, California, and the exterior of C&H Sugar is seen on screen. The location was not announced until filming had concluded, for fear that large crowds would gather to watch.[32] Filming also took place in Nob Hill, San Francisco and Emeryville. While production was in the Bay Area, it employed 300 local extras and crew members. Production returned to London on January 29 to shoot Damon's final scenes.[12][33] On February 3, scenes were filmed at the Charles Dickens Museum.[34] Later in the month, the London Book Fair was recreated inside the Alexandra Palace for a scene featuring George and Marie. Publishers including Random House had their stands built for the three-day shoot, two months before the real London Book Fair took place.[3] Filming wrapped afterwards.[35]

Visual effects work was carried out by Los Angeles-based Scanline VFX. 169 effects were created, the key sequence of which was the tsunami, which features "full CG water shots and CG water extensions to water plates, digital doubles, CG set extensions, matte paintings, digital make-up fx and full CG environments with extensive destruction, from toppling digital palm trees to colliding digital cars".[36] An effect described as the "hereafter effect" also appears, "[giving] the viewer glimpses into the afterlife".[36]


After initial speculation by Variety that the film would be released in December 2010, Warner Bros. announced that Hereafter would go on general release in the United States and Canada on October 22, 2010.[37][38]

A pre-release screening of Hereafter was held on August 10, 2010.[39] The film had its world premiere on September 12, 2010 at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.[40][41] The theatrical trailer was attached to The Town and Life as We Know It. Hereafter was also screened on October 10, 2010 as the Closing Night Film of the 48th New York Film Festival.[42] The film was given a limited release on October 15, 2010.[43]

The film premiered in Japan on February 19, 2011.[44] A few days after the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the film was withdrawn from all cinemas in that country, two weeks earlier than originally planned.[45] "Warner Bros. spokesperson Satoru Otani said the film's terrifying tsunami scenes were 'not appropriate' at this time."[45]

Critical reception[edit]

Hereafter has received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 46% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 151 reviews, with an average score of 5.8/10. The critical consensus is: "Despite a thought-provoking premise and Clint Eastwood's typical flair as director, Hereafter fails to generate much compelling drama, straddling the line between poignant sentimentality and hokey tedium." [46] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 56/100 based on 41 reviews.[47] Roger Ebert, however, gave the film four stars (out of four), calling it a film that "considers the idea of an afterlife with tenderness, beauty and a gentle tact. I was surprised to find it enthralling."[48]

The film received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but lost to another Warner Bros. film, Inception.


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External links[edit]