If you really want to get rich, I suggest killing yourself.
Wait, put down that bottle of poison. I mean kill yourself, but in a way where you come back to life at the end. No one really knows what the afterlife's like, right? You could sell your story for millions. Or bring back and market whatever it is that makes Heaven so heavenly. (Sandwich trees, probably. That or some of that tasty immortality.) Alternately, you could skip the whole temporary suicide thing and just make a bunch of stuff up, but I doubt anyone's ever made any money deceiving people.
Another point in favor of going there for real: you could finally figure out which movies got it right (my money's on Flatliners). And there's nothing more important than wielding the room's best-informed opinion on pop culture. So I say to you, in a tone that clearly implies any dissent will be met with such hot-blooded scorn you will immediately falter to the floor like a falling leaf, that the afterlife piece Hereafter is the sort of movie that may earn a Best Picture nomination it wouldn't deserve.
Three people have connections to death: Matt Damon, a psychic who can speak to the deceased. Cecile De France, a reporter who has visions of the afterlife after nearly drowning in a tsunami. And a boy named Marcus (played by Frankie and George McLaren), whose twin dies in a car accident, leaving him alone.
Each struggles to come to terms with experience -- but it's a thing few others understand, and as their searches go on, they become increasingly isolated.
Not the snappiest of plot summaries. Perhaps I suck right now. Then again, perhaps you suck and you're just not getting it. Wait, I'm sorry, Internet. I didn't sleep that well last night. Let's forget what I just said and agree this is all director Clint Eastwood's fault.
Well, and writer Peter Morgan, who steadfastly refuses to give Hereafter a simplistic or conventional plot. That winds up both a weakness and a strength. It's nice that it unfolds like real life, messy and unpredictable -- in your average ghost-whispering movie, Damon would end up the unwitting linchpin of a scheme by aliens/God/aliens masquerading as God to save humanity from a horde of angry dead gathering deep under Earth's crust -- but I'm also, in general, a fan of things happening.
Things don't do much happening in Hereafter. Not of the kind that adds up to much narrative propulsion, anyway, especially when you're cutting between three separate story lines of internalized grief and loneliness that only begin to cohere in the final few minutes. Sure, you've got some thematic connections tying these three people together, but when your field's as broad as "death," there's more than a little shouting distance between their individual journeys.
Which is probably part of the point. It's just not a very finely-honed one.
Eastwood and Morgan do get fat props, however, for avoiding any hint of Crazy Coincidence Theatre. When Damon and De France meet, it's not because he dreamed his dead dog barking her name and address across an overcast sky where the clouds formed her face. It's accidental and natural, built to by careful and detailed writing. Meanwhile, Eastwood classes up the joint with some great lighting and a light touch to some heavy themes.
Maybe too light. While the emotional journeys of Damon and the twins are compelling, Hereafter doesn't tackle death and the afterlife hard enough to risk being great or ridiculous. The result: a well-made film that somehow manages to be neither consistently entertaining nor especially meaningful.