Saturday, November 06, 2010


Dickens' Dream
Matt Damon's performance in Hereafter, the brilliant Clint Eastwood movie that opened to mixed reviews last month, is understated but dazzling.  The 39-year-old actor, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in Invictus, does not allow himself to be seduced by the histrionic potential of Eastwood's exploration of the supernatural aspect of death.  Damon has a talent for conveying the unglamorous side of life.  He plays George as a quiet, ordinary man who is saddened and numbed by his psychic talent to communicate with the dead. George is unable to lead an ordinary life. He touches a woman's hands and is instantly in touch with her sorrow. Women freak out; the bereaved pursue George even after he gives up readings.

Instead, he reads Charles Dickens obsessively.  

Of course I was thrilled to have this bond with George.  What could be more charming than another fan of Dickens, even in a film? He listens to the audiobook of David Copperfield in his apartment in San Francisco and later has a chance to hear Derek Jacobi give a reading of David Copperfield at a book fair in London.  (By the way, there is no Derek Jacobi audiobook of David C.  Perhaps they should rethink that.  Certainly fans will want to buy it.)

Book fairs!  London!  Yes, of course you have to see this movie.

And there is a scene in the Dickens Museum.  Damon touches Dickens' desk and looks serenely thrilled when he sees Robert Buss's painting, "Dickens' Dream,"  a painting of Dickens surrounded by his characters.

There are other characters in this movie, but Damon is the center and the glue that holds it together.  

In real life does he like Dickens? 

Film critic James Rocchi, in an interview at the blog, the Rocchi Report, asked Damon if working on Hereafter made him a Dickens fan. 

“No, I always liked him. It was interesting, actually. Peter (Morgan) actually even wrote it in the script, and I talked to him about it. He says, ‘Most people would say Shakespeare, but Dickens for me is really the guy.’ We went and shot at the Dickens museum and (at) that picture, the Dickens dream picture. When you see it, it’s Dickens sitting at his desk and all of these characters in his books kind of bent around him; they’re in his imagination, but they’re like these ghosts that are haunting him, almost. So it’s like a perfect parallel for George, for the character who has these visions. And so it’s like in that moment George realizes maybe that’s the reason he’s always felt so connected to Dickens — because in fact he may have been having a similar type of experience on Earth.”

Fascinating movie--do see it for the stunning acting. It's like M. Night Shyamolon, only through the lens of Clint Eastwood.

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