The Hereafter crosses over to the other side.

Right now at the movies the summer blockbusters are being burned to DVD for the Christmas rush and a lull has come over the local megaplex movie theaters. What’s left is the features that are either anorexic-thin horror movies to capitalize on the Halloween weekend dates or movies that were intended for summer release but were pulled in favor of letting the big money movies have their way.

The third group is where The Hereafter falls in.

The Hereafter is directed by Clint Eastwood and will likely not be heard from again until February when Academy Award nominations are handed out. I’m not saying that because the movie was excellent in and of itself but it smacks of a movie that is intended to be a vehicle to win Academy Awards, and a lot of them.

The film examines the afterlife. Not so much from the religious Heaven and Hell point of view but from the existence beyond our physical life on earth. It focuses on George Lonnegan, played by Matt Damon, who has the psychic ability to communicate with the dead by taking readings by touching the hands of close relatives. It is his story, along with the stories of Marie Lelay, a TV journalist played by Cecile De France who goes through a near-death experience after surviving being swept away in a tsunami. It also explores the heart-rending story of a pair of twins from England named Marcus and Jason, played by Frankie and George McLendon. While on an errand for their mother Jason is killed in an auto-pedestrian accident after being chased into the street by a gang of street thugs.

Both Lelay and Marcus are looking for closure. Lelay trying to resolve the visions in her head of the day when she almost lost her life and Marcus trying to understand why his brother, who was his protector and essentially his voice in the world had to die. Their journey leads them to meet Lonnegan in London where he attends a book fair where Lelay is presenting her novel about her experience. Lonnegan does a reading for Marcus and Marcus helps him contact Lelay.

The movie is well written and produced. It will likely do very well at the Academy Awards but for the casula moviegoer the subject matter was very deep and cerebral. It had it’s moments of action, mainly when the tsunami strikes that nearly claims Lelay’s life and a terrorist bombing that Marcus escapes in the Underground subway system in London, which is attributed to his brother pushing his baseball cap off his brother’s head in the reading Damon’s character give to the boy.

As I watched this movie I kept thinking that this movie, with a few more psychological elements to it, would pass for an M. Night Shyamalan movie with the hushed manner of speaking, which was annoying at times to the long periods of silence. Another problem I had with the movie was that it took way too long to resolve the storylines.

Otherwise, the movie is photographed very well and given the subject matter, very light. By that I mean there is very little points where the movie is dark and depressing.

All those elements put together will have The Hereafter sitting pretty come Oscar time.