Javier Bardem isn't the only one who sees Dead People this week. Matt Damon is at it too in Clint Eastwood's latest. It's a three-strand narrative, written by our own Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon).
Damon plays a blue-collar guy in San Francisco who regards his psychic connection with the afterlife as a curse rather than a gift, and has abandoned his consulting business because he feels "like a freak". Meanwhile, a Parisian newscaster (Cécile de France) has suffered a near-death experience in Asia, and wants to write a book about it. In London, twin 12-year-old brothers (George and Frankie McLaren) are tragically separated, leaving one in despairing search of the other. The film leads off with a great set-piece, a terrifying recreation of the Asian tsunami of 2004, which you would swear is happening before your eyes, but after that the only point of intrigue is to see how the three stories link up. Answer: with the greatest clunkiness. The problem is not so much Eastwood's ponderous direction as Morgan's script, written, he says, shortly after the sudden death of a close friend. It is sincere, well-meaning and, I'm sorry to say, quite transparent hokum. We could also have lived without the cameo by Derek Jacobi, gurning through a passage of David Copperfield and reviving unhappy memories of his labour of luvvie, Charles Dickens's England.