2) There's a three-proinged story going on here. You have the story of a French journalist (Francophile actress Cecile De France) who has a near-death experience while vacationing in Indonesia around the time of the epic tsunami. There's a lapsed psychic toiling away at a factory job in San Francisco (Matt Damon). Then you have a young boy (played by both Frankie and George McLaren) from a shattered home who falls into despair when his twin brother is killed in a horrible car accident. The stories progress as threads of a whole that come together in the final act. These sorts of movies rarely work for me because I am always becoming more involved with one aspect of the story over the others and then I keep just wanting them to return to the one I am enjoying. In this case, the one I became engrossed in was the Damon story. The French one I didn't enjoy, probably because the actors were all so...French, and the one with the kid was just really dull.
3) You know, I don't really go to Clint Estwood flicks for the special effects, but there is no denying that the scene where the tsunami takes place in the early minutes is pretty spectacular. It really draws you into the film and gives you that feeling of "Holy sh*t, if I ever saw a wave that big flying at my arse while I was trying to buy some knick-knacks for my significant other's kids, I would probably just cr*p my pants."
4) While Matt Damon had to repress his playful charm in this flick, I still think he acquitted himself well. There wasn't really too much for his character to do in this one other than to be really sad, but when given the chance to share scenes with Bryce Dallas Howard (as a potential love interest he meets in a cooking class), he is really able to make you care about the character's plight and draws the audience in so that you are really hoping that a relationhip with this woman will work out. I also just admire that he consistently works with challenging directors, even to the point of working with them multiple times (Eastwood, Steven Soderbergh, Paul Greengrass).
5) By the way, the relationship with Howard's character doesn't work out. It's got to suck to be able to read people's thoughts when you hold their hand. When she insists on getting a reading from the former soothsayer, he quickly deciphers that she was molested by her father. Oy! AWKWARD! The love interest is gone for the rest of the movie, and it's a shame because I have never really loved Howard in a movie, but she really was quite fine in this film. Her character may have been a little saintly, but she had an easy chemistry with Damon. When she left, the movie suffered.
6) All jokes about the French aside, I was not too impressed with Cecile De France. I respect that Eastwood wanted to go all authentic with the French language and all that, but what, Marion Cotillard wasn't available (maybe she was shooting Inception)? Eastwood can get just about anyone to be in one of his movies and a more engaging actress may have saved that storyline.
7) I'm not questioning the cinematography, but why do actors in Eastwood's so love to sit in dark rooms? I know we are creating a somber atmosphere here, but can we at least turn on a night light or something?
8) What the f*ck happened to Jay Mohr?
9) I nodded off toward the end and had to rewind back to see the conclusion. So technically, I have now "seen" the ending twice. I can honestly say I still have no idea why the Damon and De France characters ended up getting together. I guess it is because they both know what it is like to have seen "the other side?" Maybe it was because when he held her hand, he wasn't able to detect that she runs an underground dog-fighting ring, or has seen every episode of Glee, or some other such devastating trauma. No idea. Didn't work for me.
10) For a rumination on the afterlife and what we may expect to confront once we have passed on from this lifetime, the film was oddly unaffecting. It was kind of endlessly depressing and it was tough to get into the characters, other than the Damon guy, and that was probably just because I feel like I would enjoy having a beverage with Matt Damon. Eh. Overall, not worth a viewing, and this is disconcerting for a fan of Clint Eastwood's. It is wholly possible that we have seen the last great film from one of Hollywood's iconic figures. I'm sure Leonardo DiCaprio hopes I am wrong.