7.7/10
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197 user 122 critic

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

R | | Drama | 21 November 1997 (USA)
A bus crash in a small town brings a lawyer to the town to defend the families, but he discovers that everything is not what it seems.

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(novel), (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 33 wins & 52 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Caerthan Banks ...
...
Tom McCamus ...
...
...
Risa
...
Wendell
...
Allison
Kirsten Kieferle ...
Stewardess
...
Wanda
Earl Pastko ...
Hartley
...
Bear
David Hemblen ...
Abbott
...
Sarah Rosen Fruitman ...
Jessica
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Storyline

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 <mticheno@direct.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bus | lawyer | child | anger | school | See All (197) »

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

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Details

Official Sites:

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Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El dulce porvenir  »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Mitchell Stephens: I've done everything the loving father of a drug addict is supposed to do... I've sent her to the best hospitals, she's seen all the best doctors. It doesn't matter. Two weeks later she's on the street. New York, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Toronto, L.A. The next time I hear from her, it's a phone call scamming for money. Money for school, or money for a new kind of therapist, or money for a plane ticket home. 'Oh Daddy, just let me come home... Please, Daddy, I have to see you... ' But she never ...
[...]
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Connections

Featured in Siskel & Ebert: The Best Films of 1997 (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Courage
Words and Music by The Tragically Hip
Courtesy of Universal Music/Ball Music, Inc. and Little Smoke Music, Inc.
Performed by The Tragically Hip
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User Reviews

 
A haunting tale about how nothing is ever as it seems
25 December 1999 | by (Ukiah, California) – See all my reviews

On the surface, this is simply the story of a small Canadian town traumatized by a school bus crash. Personal injury lawyer Ian Holm arrives on the scene in his expensive car, cellular phone at hand, ready to sign up victims for a lawsuit because, "I believe there is no such thing as an accident." But that summary really tells nothing, because this haunting tale is not about a grasping lawyer or greedy victims, but about how nothing is ever as it seems on the surface.

Director Atom Egoyan does a remarkable job with the narrative. Though at times the movie is difficult to follow because of some sequences which it is not immediately clear are flashbacks, it's worth sticking with it. The story works precisely because the chronology is chopped up to reveal the secrets each character, including the lawyer, keeps hidden, until the tragedy finally rips open the lives of everyone it touches.

Repeat viewings are definitely in order, if only because of the multiple, interwoven layers and images which are not always apparent on first viewing, and to ponder the interplay among the three strands of narrative in the movie. The movie is worthwhile, too, for Holm's portrayal of his grim, relentless character (possibly the best of his career), and Sarah Polley's remarkable performance as a kind of modern-day Greek chorus.


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