Hereafter isn’t an exciting movie. If all you’re looking for is excitement, watch the first ten minutes of the movie and then leave. It opens with a gripping, horrifically destructive flood that might seem ludicrously implausible and overdone if there hadn’t recently been similar devastating floods in reality. But after the excitement of the first ten minutes, Hereafter moves along at a deathly pace. In spite of this, Hereafter isn’t a boring movie. The sluggish pace suits Hereafter perfectly, since it’s about death. And it’s a very good movie about death. An atmosphere of melancholy and loss pervades the entire picture, which would be destroyed by a faster pace. The visuals are gorgeous, and the characters are very likeable and sympathetic. You get emotionally close to them, feeling their hurt and sense of loss as they’re each touched by death.
The plot is very thin, but that doesn’t matter in this movie. The story isn’t really important. It’s mainly about the emotional journeys of the characters as they search for answers regarding death. There is no twist ending a la M. Night Shyamalan or TheTwilight Zone, and the movie doesn’t answer the question it asks, “What happens after we die?” But that’s okay, because if Hereafter did try to provide an answer, it would be no better than the charlatan psychics in the movie who try to deceive the little boy. Hereafter isn’t about providing answers to satisfy an audience’s love of a good mind-bending twist ending. It’s about casting light on the question of life after death, our helplessness in the face of death and our failure to find answers about it.
So, if you go into Hereafter with the expectation of excitement and twists, you’ll be disappointed. But if you just accept it as an emotional exploration of humankind’s most puzzling mystery, you’ll love it.