Wow. It’s been a long time since I started a movie, and my husband and I mutually agreed not to finish it.
“Hereafter” had everything. It should have been a great movie. It started off okay. Was it poor direction? Poor presentation? Poor story? Driving in to work today, I tried to figure it out, to make sure I don’ make the same mistakes in my writing.
“Hereafter” starts with a negative. Subtitles. I was okay with it, though. After a while, however, it got to be too much. At one point about half way through, my husband started to forward the parts with the subtitles. Funny thing is, we didn’t miss anything… and I think that’s part of the problem.
Pacing, and false-action beginning.
When I first started writing, I read a blog, and I wish I could remember her name, but she said something that has stuck with me. “The first chapter is a promise to your reader.” She went on to say that your first chapter should exemplify what your reader can expect from the rest of it.
“Hereafter” starts with a couple on vacation (speaking French, with subtitles) They have a beachfront hotel room, and a tsunami hits. Great heart-pumping beginning. After that, the movie just dies. Boom. Dead. Bury me, please.
We are catapulted away from that scene to Matt Damon’s character, who is a psychic who has stopped using his powers because he wants a normal life. Okay, that part was fine.
Catapult #2: We are then slammed to England, where two twin boys are struggling with their mother’s opium dependence. Huh? At first we thought it was the same woman from the opening scene, but no… totally different person.
Boomerang: Now we are in France with the person dealing with the aftermath of surviving a tsunami
Slap: Back to the USA with Matt Damon, who is getting cooking lessons. Huh?
***Get on with it!***
After an hour of this, I rolled over, hugged my pillow, and said “wake me up if anything happens”
Now, obviously, I hope, all these people would come together to make a point out of this movie. However, at that point, I was totally bored out of my mind.
I liked the Matt Damon parts. They at least had a spark of an interesting plot. The rest of it seemed like low-budget foreign films (no music in this move at all either, which is really weird.)
Well, I fell asleep. This morning my husband said, “Do you mind if we just return this and get another movie?”
Normally, I would want to see what happened. I honestly didn’t care one bit. “Yeah, send it back.”
***So, What went wrong?***
So what went wrong? The characters may have been important to the end of the story (I suppose, I didn’t get that far) But if their stories are boring, do we need to know about them in such detail?
If they all come together, it could have been taken care of better in flashback or dialog right before they all meet. Tsunami survivor can remember the horrible ordeal, and the person next to them can say “Wow, you sure had a hard time adjusting, didn’t you.” The kids and their Mom could have been summed up similarly in dialog.
GET ON WITH IT
The point is… GET ON WITH IT. The story teller lost me. Completely. So much so that I didn’t finish.
Look at your novels carefully and decide, honestly, if there is a place where someone might think “Get on with it.”
And watch those false-action beginnings. I was all ready for a great action flick here. What I got was a boring melodrama.