The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

R  |   |  Drama  |  21 November 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 25,773 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 194 user | 120 critic | 23 from

This film documents the effects of a tragic bus accident on the population of a small town.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 32 wins & 51 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Caerthan Banks ...
Tom McCamus ...
Kirsten Kieferle ...
Earl Pastko ...
David Hemblen ...
Sarah Rosen Fruitman ...


A small community is torn apart by a tragic accident which kills most of the town's children. A lawyer visits the victims' parents in order to profit from the tragedy by stirring up the their anger and launching a class action suit against anyone they can blame. The community is paralyzed by its anger and cannot let go. All but one young girl, left in a wheelchair after the accident, who finds the courage to lead the way toward healing. Written by Matthew Tichenor <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bus | children | anger | school | lawyer | See All (179) »


Sometimes courage comes from the most surprising places. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexuality and some language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

De beaux lendemains  »

Box Office


CAD 5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$31,149 (USA) (10 October 1997)


$4,306,697 (USA) (3 April 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


As indicated on Atom Egoyan's commentary track on the DVD, many people ask about the odd mask worn by the note-taker during the deposition scene. This is a Stenographer's Mask, an item which is used in real-life for the stenographer to record her own voice during the deposition. See more »


When Stephens visits the Ottos, and Mr. Otto offers him some tea, we hear a teakettle whistling but the one we see on the cooker is not the whistling type. See more »


Mitchell Stephens: I can help you.
Billy Ansell: Not unless you can raise the dead.
See more »


Words and Music by The Tragically Hip
Courtesy of Universal Music/Ball Music, Inc. and Little Smoke Music, Inc.
Performed by The Tragically Hip
See more »

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User Reviews

The Best Film of the 1990's
25 February 2003 | by (New Jersey, USA) – See all my reviews

Brutally honest, haunting, cold, austere and elliptical in the unfolding of plot and story, Atom Egoyan's restrained but powerful look at a small Canadian town ripped apart by tragedy and now invaded by a troubled lawyer (played expertly by Ian Holm) looking to make a killing off their grief is one of the most artistic portraits of the sorrow of everyday people ever conceived. The scene where Bruce Greenwood's character witnesses the school bus carrying his two children and all the hopes and dreams of a small town skid nonchalantly off an icy road and onto a frozen body of water that can't possibly hold the vehicle's weight is among the most chilling, heart-wrenching and gut-dropping scenes ever put on film. The revelations unearthed during the lawyer's investigation are both quietly disturbing and all too true to life. The intertwining tales of the townsfolk and the ultimately heartbroken lawyer are exquisitely handled by Egoyan and leave the viewer feeling the same loss as the characters. Tragedy befalls us all. Luckily, every once in awhile, so does great art.

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