I see a lot of movies…at least one a week.
And never has a director’s ‘stamp’ been so obvious to me as during the double feature I saw yesterday: “Conviction,” starring Hillary Swank, and “Hereafter,” with Matt Damon.
I hadn’t intended to see two such heavy films back-to-back, but the times worked out and the screens were right next door to each other…so off I went.
“Conviction” is the true story of a working class mother who puts herself through college and law school in an attempt to free her brother who is serving a life sentence after being wrongly convicted of murder. Director Tony Goldwyn, who has worked behind the camera in television more than film, really brings the audience into the story. The scenes between Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell, who plays her brother, are particularly heartbreaking.
I don’t know how anyone could leave the theater untouched by that movie.
I can’t same the same about “Hereafter.” Directed by Oscar-winner Clint Eastwood, this movie tells the story of three people — an American man, a French woman and a British boy — who are all touched by death and whose lives intersect in their quest to connect with life beyond.
Eastwood’s movie has a bold opening that took my breath away, but when the emotion should have matched the CGI, the film instead pulled away. I felt like a spectator from a very great distance. I still cared about the people; I just didn’t share in their experiences.
So…why was the material handled so differently?
Did Goldwyn, who has lived in in Massachusetts (where the “Conviction” story took place) have a more personal connection to the material…and that subsequently came through in the final product?
Could Eastwood’s own feelings about life-after death have caused him to ‘observe’ the story himself and unintentionally give the audience the same experience?
Or did I bring my own biases to the party that colored my view of both films?
If you’ve seen “Conviction,” “Hereafter,” or both, leave a comment with your thoughts.
And we’ll see. We’ll see.