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TIFF: Eastwood's Hereafter Debuts in Toronto to Mixed Reaction

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 15, 2010 at 6:47AM

One of the things that happens at a fest like Toronto is bad timing: I went to see Barney's Version at Roy Thomson Hall Sunday night with a ticket in my pocket for the later public screening of Clint Eastwood's Hereafter at the Elgin/Visa, a brisk fifteen-minute walk away. But producer Robert Lantos and his team made such a long intro, and the movie was significant enough to stay through to the end, so I missed the Eastwood. I'll see it later. The movie has gotten a "good not great" response here.
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Thompson on Hollywood

One of the things that happens at a fest like Toronto is bad timing: I went to see Barney's Version at Roy Thomson Hall Sunday night with a ticket in my pocket for the later public screening of Clint Eastwood's Hereafter at the Elgin/Visa, a brisk fifteen-minute walk away. But producer Robert Lantos and his team made such a long intro, and the movie was significant enough to stay through to the end, so I missed the Eastwood. I'll see it later. The movie has gotten a "good not great" response here.

Check out the trailer below and a sampling of early reviews after the jump:

JoBlo's Chris Bumbray says we get "the traditional Eastwood polish" with this "very gentle film";

It "focuses on three people in crisis, all of whom want to know what the great beyond holds for us…Damon's wonderful as this vulnerable, wounded guy who's constantly being taken advantage of by people who either want to exploit him (like his slimy brother played by Jay Mohr), or want to use his ability to sort out their own issues with death…Hereafter is a bit of a draggy film…[but] it's never really dull, although it could have been tightened up a bit in the editing room. I still really enjoyed it for what it is, which is a not particularly deep, but surprisingly pleasant, and moving look at the afterlife...There are no scares, but there's a lot of emotion, and that's not a bad thing at all."

Roger Ebert:

"It is made with the reserve, the reluctance to take obvious emotional shortcuts, that is a hallmark of Eastwood as a filmmaker. This is the film of a man at peace. He has nothing to prove except his care for the story…Eastwood and his actors achieve a tone that never forces the material but embraces it. It is never dreamlike, but it could be described as evoking a reverie state. These people are not hurtling toward the resolution of a plot."

Todd McCarthy:

"after the long, intertwining build-up, a bit more is expected at the conclusion than is actually delivered, leaving the film with a relatively soft ending rather than delivering a sharp insight into the mysterious matters that have been gently explored for a couple of hours….It’s an offbeat, unexpected work with a thoughtful, rational approach to material usually dealt with in hyperbolic, sensationalistic terms."

The Independent's Kaleem Aftab:

"Despite the central theme, Eastwood doesn't try to make any big pronouncements on death and mortality. It seems that life, and Eastwood's directing career, just move on."

Drew McWeeny at HitFix:

"It's all build-up and then empty at the moment it needs to tie everything together…The Damon storyline yields the best results, especially when he meets a young woman (Bryce Dallas Howard) in an Italian cooking class he's taking, and the tension between them is great.  Howard's never been more appealing on film, and Damon really does nail the role of a guy who just wants normalcy, and who hates being special.  He hates the responsibility."

THR's Kirk Honeycutt:

"One wants a film dealing with the ultimate metaphysical issue to end on a more profound note than the finish Morgan comes up with…However, it certainly will give audiences something to debate on the way home. As with "Letters From Iwo Jima" and "Million Dollar Baby," Eastwood has made a movie that shakes up the whole notion of what studio movies can be."


This article is related to: Festivals, Headliners, Reviews, Toronto, Matt Damon


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.