The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

R  |   |  Drama  |  21 November 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 25,756 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) »


There is no such thing as the simple truth. 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
See  »

Did You Know?


Caerthan Banks is the daughter of Russell Banks, who wrote the novel (also titled "The Sweet Hereafter") that the film is based on. 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 »


Dolores: I remember wrenching the steering wheel to the right and slapping my foot against the brake petal. I wasn't the driver anymore. The bus was like this huge wave about to break over us. Bear Otto, the Lambston kids, the Hamiltons, the Prescotts, the teenaged boys and girls from Bartlett Hill Road, Pete, Suzy, Laura, Rick, Sean Walker, Nicole Burnell, Billy Ansel's twins, Jessica and Mason... all the children of my town.
[begins sobbing]
Mitchell Stephens: Then what happened?
See more »


One More Colour
Words and Music by Jane Siberry
Courtesy of Wing in Music/Red Sky Music
Arranged by Mychael Danna
Vocal by Sarah Polley
Performed by The Sam Dent Band
See more »

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User Reviews

The master work of a great humanist director.
30 September 1999 | by (Helsinki, Finland.) – See all my reviews

When it comes to drama, The Sweet Hereafter represents the finest cinema of the decade. The film lifts the director Atom Egoyan to the highest place of Canadian directors -right next to David Cronenberg. With extraordinary intelligence, Egoyan -the maker of "Exotica"- creates labyrinths of relationships. Brilliantly using flashbacks the director reveals the emotions of the characters to the viewers -a powerful way to make the audience feel anxiety.

The Sweet Hereafter is based on a novel by Russell Banks. This doesn't mean that Egoyan hasn't created a film that looks like his own creation. Very beautifully, even with a sense of poetry, the camera moves in a canadian small-town, a scenery full of snow. The nicely unusual music of Mychael Danna creates the mood when a lawyer played by Ian Holm arrives to the town. A School bus lies under ice, and the lawyer is invited to sue someone for the loss of several children.

A very important slice of the scenario belongs to a school girl (Sarah Polley), who realizes that the grief of loss can't be eased by judging the cause of it. Also the other people of the town play a remarkable role in the script.

Egoyan speaks clearly, but with a sound of personality, about the need of love, the pain of loneliness and the crossing of emotional obstacles. Fortunately someone knows how to direct interesting movies with elements of drama in them. The Sweet Hereafter possesses a brilliant structure where the visual telling breaths in the spirit of symbolism. I'm a very demanding viewer, a true cynic who always tries to find the worst sides of the film, but in this case I can't say anything negative.

55 of 65 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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