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Hereafter: Beautiful, Thought-Provoking Eastwood Drama
Off to a solid and magnificent start, Hereafter’s plot gives you a proper introduction to each and every character with enough time to become fascinated by their stories. Marie Lelay (De France) is among numerous victims who try to survive a deadly typhoon that flooded the streets of Thailand. The rushing of water destroys everything in its path, with hundreds of casualties, and the intensity of meeting death within seconds. This scene alone was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Visual Effects.
Then the story turns to George Lonegan (Damon), a man who’s haunted by his ability to communicate with the dead. Damon gives a great performance by showing the struggles and the burden of such a gift: it can be a blessing at times, but at other times it’s a dreadful curse that he tries to escape from. This really shows when his love interest Melanie (Howard) insists on witnessing his so-called gift, even though he is obviously against it.
The third and final story involves twin brothers who live in London with their clearly irresponsible mother. Though child services are constantly on the family’s back, the death of one of the brothers makes matters even worse. Both of the McLaren brothers give a remarkable performance that could simply put other famous young talents to shame, such as Haley Joel Osment.
Under the direction of the remarkable and acclaimed Clint Eastwood, Hereafter is indeed a rich production in all its aspects. The film has great cinematography, profound acting, and a moving musical score that fits perfectly with the picture – the score is also composed by Eastwood himself.
Furthermore, the scenes filmed in Paris are presented in French as the spoken language, which is a respected and more professional attempt to make the scene more authentic, even if it might annoy audiences seeking subtitles. Director Quentin Tarantino used a similar technique in his recent hit Inglorious Bastards, which was shot mainly in German, French and Italian with very little English.
Hereafter is a well-made film with a powerful spiritual message that will compel audiences to think. The film may not be Eastwood’s best, but it’s definitely among his highlighted achievements and comes highly recommended.
They would try anything as if they had no fear of failure. They weren’t afraid of screwing up because the process and the act of creation were the important parts; if the product ended up sucking it was no big deal because they’d already be at work on the next piece. At least that’s the vibe that the documentary gives off. It also helps that the modern day, grown-up No Wavers seem every bit as cool as they did back then.
Titled from a popular term which describes the early transfer of a young offender from a juvenile detention facility to an adult penitentiary, Starred Up is by no means an easy watch. However, as much as it is difficult to digest at times, there is a certain poetic beauty behind its seemingly violent and destructive quality that makes it difficult to look away from.
Shot within the walls of an abandoned Belfast prison, the film opens with troubled nineteen-year-old Eric Love (O’Connell) undergoing an embarrassing admittance process, involving a complete body strip down, as he’s transferred into an adult reformatory.
Immediately marked as a “single cell, high risk” type detainee, it doesn’t take long for Eric – whose frequent and violent outbursts got him relocated there in the first place – to stir up trouble and make enemies both with fellow inmates and security guards.
After a mistaken attack on another inmate lands the young delinquent into the disciplinary hands of the law, Eric is soon approached – and rescued – by the in-house therapist, Oliver Braumer (Friend), who believes that he can help the young man rehabilitate.
Unfortunately, getting to the root of Eric’s problems - and getting him to open up - is no easy task and Oliver - together with the other rehabilitating convicts - often find themselves the targets of both verbal and physical abuse. To top it off, Eric has to find a way to learn to share the walls of his new confinements with his estranged father, Nev (Mendelsohn), who is currently serving a life-sentence in the same prison.
Penned by first-time screenwriter Jonathan Asser – a former prison psychotherapist whose own experience with the British penal-system adds a hefty dose of authenticity and realism to the film – Starred Up, told through a series of wordless and violent expositions, is fuelled with gripping intensity which is hard to shake off. Relying on action, rather than words, the uniqueness – and the heart - of the story lies with the father-son narrative, whose bonding difficulties are depicted through the oppressiveness of life in prison.
Contributing to the movie’s relentless and uncompromising approach to despair and violence, O’Connell – mostly known for his role in the British TV-series Skins and recently seen as the lead in Angelina Jolie’s war-drama Unbroken – is an absolute standout; feral and unpredictable, his performance carries the film, while Mendelsohn is equally superb as a man whose persona and motives are seemingly hard to read.
Powerful, emotional but never too sentimental, Starred Up is a true British-prison drama classic whose quietly yielding power and passion for storytelling will leave you feeling captivated and moved.