Although science progresses with an unprecedented pace, death, the greatest puzzle, remains unsolved; we know the biological reasons that stop life, but this knowledge is far from consoling us. Death remains the great mystery.
Traditionally, afterlife has been the business of religion. Different religions offer us different versions of what happens in the “other” world; what is paradise, what is hell, who is chosen, and who is damned. Along these systems, one could always find oracles, fortunes tellers, spiritualists and psychics (a modern term) who claim to talk to spirits and communicate with the dead. And although serious and not so serious spiritual and paranormal studies couldn’t prove the existence of an afterlife, the desire to connect with what many believe to be the hidden side of reality, remains unconquerable.
Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, treads upon the tension between the desperate desire to connect with the dead and the countless charlatans that abuse it. Each of the three main characters in the movie encounters death in a different way. For two of them, experiencing the end of life opens a gate into the afterworld, while for the third, death remains the great puzzle, and he becomes obsessed with the desire to connect with the dead. As the plot advances, the three connect and bring solace to each other in a most unexpected fashion.
The movie is categorized as fantasy, but the scenes and characters are thoroughly realistic and convincing. Death, after all, is part of our daily existence, and “Hereafter” explores the possibility of having a glimpse into this conundrum, while it constantly introduces the insanity of such an endeavor. The movie authentically presents the gamut of reactions people may have when faced with the possibility of communicating with the dead. Not everybody is thrilled, to say the least.
Hence it is what I would call a "realistic fantasy." However, even as a fantasy, the possibility it offers, and the manner with which it carries it, are definitely alluring.