George (Damon) has a gift: he can see into the afterlife and help people communicate with their lost loved ones. But he feels it's more like a curse.
Meanwhile in Paris, star journalist Marie (De France) has just recovered from a near-death experience. Instead of working on her planned biography of Mitterand, she instead starts investigating why accounts of after-death experiences are so shunned. And in London, pre-teen Marcus is looking for ways to communicate with recently deceased twin (they're played by Frankie and George McLaren).
This is a remarkable shift in tone for both Eastwood and Morgan, as the film remains grippingly introspective from the start. Events in the script echo real life stories (a devastating tsunami, a London Underground bombing), but the focus is on unknowable mysteries. And while there's plenty of scope for wrenching emotion, the film is surprisingly neither maudlin nor sentimental.
Which shouldn't be a surprise, since sentimentality has never been part of either Eastwood's or Morgan's repertoire.
As a result, the film effortlessly holds our attention, even though the three central characters tend to wander around in a daze most of the time. But we are thinking right along with them, which shows how powerful the acting, writing and directing really are. And when there's a scene of lively interaction, we feel it on a whole different level - Damon with Howard as a fellow cooking class student or with Mohr as his pushy brother, De France with Neuvic as her married colleague and lover, the McLarens with Marshal as their alcoholic mother.
In other words, despite some slightly overwrought plotting, the film somehow manages to entertain us on an almost existential level. It not only holds our interest, but moves us powerfully in a couple of key scenes. And as the three plot strands quietly (and slightly suddenly) merge, we somehow believe it because it's so well-grounded in our own human experience. We all know what it's like to hope for something that defies logic.
Run time: 129 mins
In Theaters: Friday 22nd October 2010
Box Office USA: $32.7M
Box Office Worldwide: $32.7M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros., Malpaso Productions, Kennedy/Marshall Company, The, Amblin Entertainment
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 46%
Fresh: 100 Rotten: 117
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Clint Eastwood
Screenwriter: Peter Morgan
Starring: Matt Damon as George Lonegan, Bryce Dallas Howard as Melanie, George McLaren as Markus/Jason, Thierry Neuvic as Didier, Cyndi Mayo Davis as Island Hotel Clerk, Lisa Griffiths as Stall Owner, Jessica Griffiths as Island Girl, Ferguson Reid as Rescuer, Derek Sakakura as Rescuer, Charlie Creed-Miles as Photographer, Frankie McLaren as Markus/Jason, Lyndsey Marshal as Jackie, Rebekah Staton as Social Worker, Cécile De France as Marie Lelay, Jay Mohr as Billy, Richard Kind as Christos
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