Soundtrack Review: HEREAFTER

Allison Loring

by: Allison Loring
October 15th, 2010

Rating: 2/5

How does one deal with death? It is one of those grand questions such as being asked to describe love or the meaning of life. And yet these seemingly unanswerable questions (death, life, love) are usually the basis for most songs and music. Based on that thinking, I guess my expectations for the music to accompany a film that attempts to answer some (if not all, depending on how you look at it) of these questions was just that: grand. Unfortunately, the score for HEREAFTER did not seem to (pardon the obvious pun) hit the right notes.

Clint Eastwood is not only the director of HEREAFTER; he is also the man behind the film’s score. This is actually not Eastwood’s first time scoring for film. He also scored CHANGELING and had a hand in the music for FLAGS OF OUR FATHER and LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA.

The film takes place in three different countries and Eastwood does succeed in creating a score that is not distinctive of any one place. Instead we get a more general aural sense of how each of these characters each relate to one another. Unfortunately, the thing that links them all together is experiences with death.

The song titles alone give away our three main characters and you can almost follow along to see what who ends up paired with whom. It is this heavy-handed approach that made me feel like a rebellious kid struggling against the will of a domineering parent. Rather than let the emotions of the story play out, Eastwood insists that his audience feel the way he thinks they should at every turn and then uses his score to continue to push this agenda.

On its own, the music is pretty, albeit sad, but when paired with the film it felt a bit manipulative. And at twenty-five tracks, it is more than a little extensive. Not every blink needs to be scored. Score can (and sometimes should) bleed over a handful of scenes to help tie things together. When you have thirty seconds here and forty-five seconds there of scene specific tracks, it gets to be a bit much. And more than anything, it leaves little room for us as the audience to breathe or reflect on our own thoughts.

Throughout the film it felt like Eastwood was telling us our feelings rather than creating a space for us to explore them within the construct of his story. Finding out he was also the composer almost felt like a cheat as the other emotional outlet aside from the visuals and story was the music, but Eastwood was pulling the strings there as well.

This soundtrack is available through Watertower Music.

1. “Beginning Credits”
2. “Tsunami”
3. “Embrace”
4. “Jason Dies”
5. “Marie Back Home”
6. “Sad George”
7. “Jason’s Ashes”
8. “Mom Leaves”
9. “Talk Of The Hereafter”
10. “George Watches Her Go”
11. “Two Beds”
12. “Bonjour”
13. “Marie’s Research”
14. “Without A Partner”
15. “Multiple Attempts”
16. “Hat Chase”
17. “Used To Be Happy”
18. “George Eats Alone”
19. “George’s Letter”
20. “Book Signing”
21. “Marcus Waits”
22. “Marcus Goes Home”
23. “A Letter To Marie”
24. “Marie And George”
25. “End Credits”

All songs composed by Clint Eastwood.

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  • Wbalfour

    Who was the piano soloist during the Hereafter score.
    Was it Eastwood??
    Dying to know!!

    • allisonloring

      I was unable to find specific musician credits for this score, but I’m PRETTY sure it was Eastwood!

  • Krismm2003

    Actually, Lennie Niehaus did the score on this film – it is Bridges of Madison County regurgitated

    • allisonloring

      Lennie Niehaus definitely did the score for BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, but it doesn’t look like he had a hand in this one.

  • justme

    I would not have ended up on this page, had it not been for the fact that I found the music for this movie very appealing. I certainly do not have much interest in movie scores to begin with. It is for this fact that I must make the comment. “Good job Clint”.. ! A few scenes really stood out because of the music.

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