DVD Tuesday: ‘Hereafter’ and ‘The Fighter’

by W. Andrew Powell

Cécile De France and Matt Damon in Hereafter

Cécile De France and Matt Damon in Hereafter

New releases on DVD and Blu-ray this week include: Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, starring Matt Damon and Cécile De France; The Fighter, starring Mark Wahlberg and Academy Award winners Christian Bale and Melissa Leo; and The Switch, with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Bateman.

Starring: Matt Damon, Cécile De France, Bryce Dallas Howard, Frankie McLaren, Jay Mohr, George McLaren
Director: Clint Eastwood

Rated: 7.5/10

Clint Eastwood has been a busy guy over the last 40 years. Aside from his acting career, the legendary star has directed almost a film each year since 1971, with the largest gap between projects being a mere three years.

Since Unforgiven in 1992, Eastwood has proven himself countless times as a legendary American director, creating classics and Academy Award winners like Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, and Letters from Iwo Jima.

Now, working with writer Peter Morgan, Eastwood directs an emotional film that looks at life and death, and three people’s experiences with the world beyond.

Matt Damon plays George, what you might call an average work-a-day man who is trying to put his past behind him. Working in a factory, George is trying to get away from his former life where he worked as a psychic, reaching out to speak to the dead. For George though, the problem is that people still come to him, asking for his help, and the mere act of touching a person’s hand connects him to the spirits in a person’s life.

On the other side of the globe, a French journalist named Marie, played by Cécile De France, has a near-death experience that leaves her with clear memories of the world beyond her life, while a young boy, played by Frankie McLaren, deals with death in his family.

Told as three separate but converging stories, Eastwood directs this stunning cast with wit and skill. Damon might be the weakest of the group, but he’s still a vital and engaging lead as this simple man looking for a simple life.

Cécile De France was my favorite part of the film, however, as she’s simply wonderful as this journalist who is slowly losing her way to secrets she wants to rediscover within herself.

While I did find Hereafter slightly loose, with an ending that I didn’t feel really gave the story a powerful conclusion, the film was nonetheless moving. It treaded lightly on a lot of topics that deserved greater breadth, but it paints a vivid portrait of three characters that are well worth getting to know.

The Fighter
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Melissa Leo, Jack McGee, Mickey O’Keefe
Director: David O. Russell

From the director of I Heart Huckabees, David O. Russell, comes this course, biographical film about prize fighter Micky Ward, played by Mark Wahlberg.

The Fighter follows Micky’s attempts to become a professional boxer as he’s managed by his mother and trained by his brother, played by Christian Bale. While Micky tries hard, fate seems to be against him and it forces him to question if he’s really meant to be a boxer.

When fate does seem to shine on the boxer, as he starts a relationship with Charlene, played by Amy Adams, he will face even more trouble thanks to the failed good intentions of his brother.

Winning two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress, for Adams and Melissa Leo, The Fighter is a compelling sports drama that just falls a little short in the story department.

Ann Hornaday of the Washington Post wrote, “A tough, bare-knuckled, compassionate meditation on every family’s rope-a-dope between tribal bonds and self-definition. Both, it turns out, are worth going to the mat for.”

Kirk Honeycutt of the Hollywood Reporter noted, however, that the film is “played for domestic drama about a dysfunctional family that never quite earns your sympathy.”

The Switch
Starring: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Bateman, Patrick Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Juliette Lewis, Thomas Robinson, Todd Louiso, Bryce Robinson, Scott Elrod
Director: Josh Gordon and Will Speck

Best friends may not fall in love all that often in the real world, but it’s something that happens a lot in the movies.

In The Switch those friends are Wally and Kassie, played by Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston. Kassie is a 40-year-old with no husband and nothing on the horizon, so she comes up with the big idea of having a baby on her own with the help of some donated sperm from a young, handsome man. Things get a little weird though when Wally gets drunk at her apartment during a big party, and ends up switching the sperm sample with his own. Too bad he was too drunk to remember it the next day though.

Jump ahead seven years and Kassie has just moved back to the city and is reconnecting with Wally when he finally remembers what he did all those years ago, and now he’s face-to-face with Kassie’s son, who looks and acts a lot like him.

Roger Moore of the Orlando Sentinel called The Switch, “The best Jennifer Aniston movie in ages,” but based on the sheer number of reviews, the film is mediocre at best. RottenTomatoes.com rates the film at just 52% fresh, but as Moore goes on to say in his review, the film is also “a star vehicle for Jason Bateman. And Aniston’s work opposite the screen’s premiere mild-mannered funnyman shows her at her most engaged and pitch perfect.”

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