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Hereafter
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Synopsis for
Hereafter (2010) More at IMDbPro »

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On assignment in Thailand, French television journalist Marie Lelay (Cécile De France) becomes a victim of the devastating December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. Pulled lifeless from the water, she is resuscitated by rescuers and after left for dead gasps back to life; but not before having a near-death experience / vision of human figures inhabiting a realm of light. Marie and her lover there, Didier (Thierry Neuvic), are soon reunited as the disaster subsided, and they return to Paris. Marie's experience, however, interferes with her work performance to the point that Didier (who is also her producer) sells her on taking a leave of absence and write the book they've discussed; which would add to her prestige.

In London, England, 12-year-old twins Marcus and Jason (Niamh Cusack and George McLaren) try desperately to prevent their alcoholic, heroin-addicted mother, Jackie (Lyndsey Marshal), from losing them to social services. After evading the authorities yet again, the boys' mother sends Jason to the chemist (pharmacist) to pick up her de-tox prescription. On the way home, Jason is attacked by street thugs, and while trying to escape, he is hit by a van and killed. No longer able to protect his mother, and barely able to cope with life without the brother he idolizes, Marcus is sent to a foster home.

In San Francisco, former professional psychic George Lonnegan (Matt Damon) is persuaded against his wishes to perform a reading for his brother Billy's (Jay Mohr) wealthy client, Christos (Richard Kind). A genuine clairvoyant with a gift for communicating with the dead, George abandoned his old career because he was unable to deal with the emotional impact of the reunions and the often disturbingly intimate family secrets revealed. While doing the reading, George hears the name June. Christos at first denies that it means anything but privately reveals to Billy that June was the name of his late wife's nurse, who he loved for 10 of the 15yrs she was his wife's caregiver, but out of embarrassment and shame never told anyone, least of all June herself.

Now book-writing with more time to contemplate her near-death experience, Marie travels to Switzerland to meet a renowned specialist in the field. As the director of a hospice who has seen her share of dying patients, the doctor describes herself as a former skeptic who was convinced by the evidence that the afterlife exists and that people like Marie have had a genuine view of it. She persuades Marie to write a book on her experience in the hope that the scientific community will ultimately accept the reality of life beyond death.

Desperate for one last reunion with his twin brother, Marcus steals money from his foster parents (Niamh Cusack and George Costigan) and goes around London seeking someone to help him contact Jason. He encounters only frauds and pretenders, however. While he is trying to board the underground at Charing Cross, Marcus's (or rather Jason's) cap seems blown off his head. Delayed by trying to find it, he misses his train and sees it explode in the tunnel during the July 7, 2005 London Bombings.

George enrolls in a cooking class taught by one of San Francisco's leading chefs. Its students are paired-up resulting in George being partnered with a young woman named Melanie (Bryce Dallas Howard). The two soon hit it off and after their second class agree on stopping for a bite. Instead, they decide to put their new culinary skills to use by preparing an Italian dinner for themselves at George's place. That begins well until they hear an ill-timed phone message from his brother, which inclines George to reveal his past as a psychic to Melanie. Curious, she presses George to do a reading for her. George explains his reluctance but goes through with it. They contact the spirit of Melanie's father, who ends the session by asking her forgiveness for "what he did" to her as a child. Melanie flees George's home in tears, and she doesn't return to the cooking class.

Having been in talks with a publisher before her trip to Thailand about a biography of Franois Mitterrand, Marie now stuns them with her new manuscript entitled "Hereafter: A Conspiracy of Silence". The publisher (Jean-Yves Berteloot) rejects the manuscript; yet later realizes her passion for the subject and during a phone call that evening steers her toward other publishers who might be interested, the most promising of them being in London.

George is laid off from his factory job and, still heartbroken over the fiasco with Melanie, rejects his brother's pushing to revive his psychic practice and impulsively leaves San Francisco to find a new start somewhere else. He travels to London, where, being a great admirer of Charles Dickens (he listens every night to audiobook readings of Dickens' works), he visits the Dickens Museum and to a live reading of Dickens by Derek Jacobi at the London Book Fair that same day. There, one of the presenters was Marie reading her now-published book. While handing to George the copy she signed to him, their hands touch and George has a psychic flash of Marie's tsunami drowning, confirming the truth of her writing.

Meanwhile, Marcus and his foster parents, along with the boy's social-worker overseers, head to the London Book Fair to meet up with the child's foster parents' former foster child, who is a now a successful young man. Asking leave of them, Marcus looks around the fair and spots George, of whom he has read and seen online. Marcus tries to stop George, who emphatically brushes him off and returns to his hotel. Marcus follows him and stands resolutely outside the hotel until nightfall waiting for George to come out. Eventually George brings him in and agrees to do his reading.

Through George, after telling Marcus how happy he is and that the afterlife is more wonderful than he can imagine, deceased Jason imparts a sterner message, telling Marcus that he cannot look after him anymore and that it is time Marcus start looking after himself and need not fear being alone, "because they are one'. George begins to lose contact and Marcus tearfully pleads for Jason to stay. Jason returns and tells Marcus that he wants him to stop wearing the cap, as it was his, not Marcus's. In the train station wind, it was Jason who knocked his cap off because it was his cap and not Marcus's and was glad he did because it keep Marcus off the doomed train and that's the last time he will look after him. George loses contact again and Marcus resumes begging Jason to return - to no avail. As Marcus leaves, he tells George he is sorry about "the French woman" as he could tell that "you like her." The last we see of Marcus, he showing a much greater strength of character and is visiting his mother in the rehab center.

Marie learns from Didier that he does not intend on having her back at the job he urged her to take leave of and is, in fact, having an affair with the woman who replaced her on the TV news program (and on its billboards). In his hotel room, George is told by Marcus via phone what hotel Marie is staying in. George goes there and writes a note to her. After reading it, she accepts its invitation from a reader of her book who knows her story is true and would like to meet her over lunch. The reader turns out to be George. While watching her scan the crowd for him, George has a touchingly reassuring vision of them holding hands and kissing, without his gift interfering, which is confirmed when they shake hands in meeting and there is no psychic linking. Their shared glimpses of the hereafter have made them appreciate this life all the more and the movie ends with them sitting down at a cafe, and starting to talking.

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