MOVIE REVIEW- Beyond belief: <i>Hereafter</i> an open-minded exploration of death


Clint Eastwood's Hereafter considers the idea of an afterlife with tenderness, beauty and a gentle tact. I was surprised to find it enthralling. I don't believe in woo-woo, but then neither, I suspect, does Eastwood. This is a film about the afterlife that carefully avoids committing itself on such a possibility. The closest it comes is the idea of consciousness after apparent death. This is plausible. Many near-death survivors report the same memories, of the white light, the waiting figures and a feeling of peace.

One of the characters seems to have a genuine psychic gift. But is he in fact communicating with people beyond the grave? Some form of telepathy might be possible, and he may simply be receiving what his subjects desire or need to be told by their dead loved ones. He brings nothing from beyond the grave that his clients could not have formed in their living minds.

This is a subject that lends itself to sensation and psychic baloney. It's astonishing how many people believe New Age notions, which have the attraction of allowing believers to confer supernormal abilities on themselves and others without the bother of plausibility. Eastwood's film will leave such people vaguely uneasy. It believes most psychics are frauds. It supposes one who seems to be the real thing, but what, exactly, is he real about?

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