TIFF: ‘Hereafter’ reviews reflect split opinions but indicate a potential Oscar player

Posted by · 9:44 pm · September 12th, 2010

Yesterday’s knee-jerk reactions to Clint Eastwood’s “Hereafter” fell in the overwhelming negative following an afternoon press screening.  At the time, I noted that festival quick takes should be taken in context and that perhaps more measured responses could tell another tale.

Well, the embargo lifted roughly 45 minutes ago.  Variety’s Justin Chang has fired off a mostly positive assessment that admits the film’s triptych of stories comes together “creakily” and that the film is “uneven,” but he seems to be willing to cut the filmmaker a little slack by appreciating the lax approach conveying the narrative.  The film is “a beguiling blend of the audacious and the familiar,” he writes, “but is armored against risibility by its deep pockets of emotion, sly humor and matter-of-fact approach to the fantastical.”

Screen Daily’s Mark Adams, meanwhile, calls the film “a bold change of pace” for Eastwood, praising him for not “resort[ing] to any clever editing to tell the three parallel stories…those interested in a shrewdly made and well-scripted drama about loss and compassion will be intrigued and impressed.”

At The Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt compares the film to Claude Leloche cinema, writing that it “never is less than intriguing, right from its tour de force opening sequence, and often full of insights into why people long for answers, sometimes with great urgency” and “will give audiences something to debate on the way home.”  He nevertheless found the ending to be a “facile” letdown.

I think it’s worth pointing out that I don’t remember the last time the trades gave a negative review to an Eastwood film.  He’s cultivated a certain appreciation over the years on those pages.

Anyway, it’s not all peaches and cream.  MSN’s James Rocchi walked out of the screening in apparent disgust, Tweeting that the film was “shabby, cliche, manipulative Stuff White Oscar Voters Like. Million Dollar Baby-level trash.”

/Film’s Peter Sciretta, meanwhile, whose Tweeted response was quoted in yesterday’s round-up, says “the story doesn’t really go anywhere” and that “when it actually does have some forward momentum, it ends up in a place that trumps logic and we’re asked to believe that it was all a matter of fate (or something).”

I think the bottom line here seems to be that even among the appreciators, Peter Morgan’s script may come together in a rather unsatisfying manner in the third act.  But words like “facile,” “cliche” and “manipulative” describe many, many former Oscar nominees and winners, so we should keep an eye on it.  To be perfectly honest, it sounds like a contender now more than ever.

[Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures]




→ 29 Comments Tags: , , , , | Filed in: Daily

29 responses so far

  • 1 9-12-2010 at 9:58 pm

    Drew said...

    With the fairly polarizing reaction that this is getting, I’m beginning to wonder if there could possibly be a generational divide with this one that’s similar to what Anne talked about with Never Let Me Go.

    All of this does make me curious as to it’s box-office potential. Invictus of course performed poorly while Gran Torino, much to my surprise, was a huge success.

  • 2 9-12-2010 at 10:00 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Gran Torino had a much easier pitch to audiences. The “get off my lawn” thing goes a long way. I imagine plenty wanted to see Clint kicking ass. But this one could go either way.

  • 3 9-12-2010 at 10:04 pm

    tintin said...

    THR love it! Good news…

  • 4 9-12-2010 at 10:08 pm

    monkey said...

    Actually that wasn’t MSN’s James Rocchi ‘s (still find it difficult to associate MSN with film criticism) original tweet. His first one obviously showed that he either saw 2 minutes of the film, or simply did not even bothered, because what he described simply does not happen in the film. Weirdly this tweet was deleted and replaced with this one. He did try to keep that charming provocative smart-ass tone though, but this all a bit too dodgy.

  • 5 9-12-2010 at 10:13 pm

    Danny King said...

    Interesting to hear that almost everyone agrees on the weakness of the conclusion. I wonder if that is because it’s too simple or because it tries something too radical.

  • 6 9-12-2010 at 11:23 pm

    red_wine said...

    Rope Of Silicon has posted a dismissive pan. I really doubt that it will be a contender. Invictus with 2 acting nominations couldn’t get nominated, this seems likely to get even less.

    I find it reductive that a merit of Eastwood film now revolves on its ability to get Oscar nominations. Thats a great disservice to one of our great film-makers. Because he had 3 Best Picture/Director nominated films this century, doesn’t mean every new film of his has to be seen in that light. Ditto Scorsese.

  • 7 9-12-2010 at 11:26 pm

    red_wine said...

    And I might add, whatever might be Gran Torino’s image stateside, its considered to be a masterpiece in Europe, specially in France. They were the first to herald him and their faith paid of when the Americans caught up with Eastwood as a film-maker.

  • 8 9-12-2010 at 11:36 pm

    Dan said...

    NO NO NO NO NO! WE WERE MAKING PROGRESS! GRAN TORINO DIDN’T GET NOMINATED! EVEN INVICTUS COULDN’T GET NOMINATED IN A FIELD OF 10!

  • 9 9-12-2010 at 11:44 pm

    Jake G. said...

    I absolutely cant wait to see this movie! People critique way to harsh! This movie looks like a masterpeice!!

  • 10 9-13-2010 at 1:27 am

    Guy Lodge said...

    Drew: “Polarising” implies that there are people out there who absolutely adore the film. I have yet to hear any such reaction.

  • 11 9-13-2010 at 3:17 am

    aspect ratio said...

    Ebert seemed very positive on it.

    Whether it’s a generational divide movie or not, they still need to cut together a more cohesive trailer if they want people to go see this. It doesn’t have to spell it out, but the current one just feels so all over the place.

  • 12 9-13-2010 at 3:20 am

    Mat said...

    Claude Lelouch, right ?

  • 13 9-13-2010 at 4:06 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    So, Eastwood tries something else and doesn’t completely succeed but he might be rewarded for trying? Is that the current bottom line?

  • 14 9-13-2010 at 5:02 am

    Eric said...

    If thats the case, then there’s no merit in any of it.

  • 15 9-13-2010 at 7:31 am

    Drew said...

    Variety and Hollywood Reporter seem very positive compared to those that walked out and shat on the movie.

  • 16 9-13-2010 at 7:44 am

    adam said...

    I liked it. That’s good enough for me.

  • 17 9-13-2010 at 7:53 am

    amanda said...

    Rocchi walked out within the first 15-20 mins of the movie, so I’m not sure he is the best judge of character for this movie. You can’t judge a movie on that short of time. I mean you can, but it’s stupid.

  • 18 9-13-2010 at 9:15 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    I don’t disagree, I’m just conveying his sentiments.

  • 19 9-13-2010 at 9:33 am

    Matthew Starr said...

    I have never once walked out of a movie in a movie theater and I have only once turned off a film I was watching in my own home.

    That film was Yi Yi A One and a Two. The first 45 minutes were way too slow and uneventful for a movie of that length.

  • 20 9-13-2010 at 10:17 am

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Anyone walking out of an Eastwood movie is insane. The man’s too big for that.

  • 21 9-13-2010 at 10:38 am

    tintin said...

    Ebert’s Hereafter Rave…

  • 22 9-13-2010 at 7:52 pm

    James Rocchi said...

    I walked out of Hereafter because — during a festival with over 300 movies — time is too short for maudlin, mawkish manipulative nonsense, and I would rather spend time seeing an actual film than a gilded tumor of an “Awards Movie” — please, please, put a tone of derision to the words between those quotes — from a film maker who’s rapidly becoming the Ronald Reagan of directors.

  • 23 9-14-2010 at 10:43 am

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Love that Rocchi

  • 24 9-14-2010 at 11:03 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    So did you like it or not, James.

  • 25 9-19-2010 at 10:55 am

    Hayden McCallen said...

    It bears mentioning that the protagonist’s character is based on the real life story of The Psychic Twins, Linda and Terry Jamison.
    They were the only psychics who predicted the 9/11 attacks in detail, as well as every major event of the new millennium. This so-called “bold change of pace” on the part of Clint Eastwood turns out to be inauthentic and unoriginal.
    Disappointing.

  • 26 3-31-2011 at 11:56 am

    Ryan said...

    I have thrown stuff up that was more interesting than this movie.