Rated 4.0

Hereafter has several stories to tell. None of them is particularly large, but the theme that links them—communication between the living and the dead—has considerable breadth and depth. It’s by way of those relatively small personal dramas that screenwriter Peter Morgan brings some ostensibly oversized issues into something like the realm of everyday experience. And director Clint Eastwood takes a patient, matter-of-fact approach to story and character alike, with results that yield some quietly surprising groundswells of emotion while maintaining an overall tone of calm, empathetic inquiry. French television reporter Marie LeLay (Cécile de France) nearly dies in the Southeast Asian tsunami. In San Francisco George Lonegan (Matt Damon), a successful but nearly burnt-out psychic, is performing what he insists will be his last “reading.” And preteen twin brothers Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) are separated first from their druggy single mom in London and then, after a fatal accident, from each other. While those three characters’ experiences of the uncanny seem genuine, the film makes no great statements about spiritualism and the afterlife. Instead Eastwood and Morgan give low-key life to an open-ended narrative network of sympathetic connections and emotional potential. Tinseltown. Rated PG-13