7.7/10
27,643
199 user 121 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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Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)

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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

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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 »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Language:

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)
 »

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

Polley's character, Nicole, was an aspiring singer before the accident, and is seen on stage at various points in the film performing both The Tragically Hip's "Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)" and Jane Siberry's "One More Colour". The Tragically Hip's original version of "Courage" also appears in the film. It was Polley's idea to re-work "Courage" for the closing credits - a version she personally sang. 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 woke to the sound of Zoe's breathing. It was laboured. I looked over and noticed she was sweating and all swollen. I grabbed her, rushed to the kitchen, and splashed water on her face.
Alison: What happened?
Mitchell Stephens: I didn't know. I was in a panic. I guessed she'd been bitten by an insect, but there was no doctor. The nearest hospital was forty miles away, and Zoe was continuing to swell. Klara took her in her arms and tried to breast-feed her, while I dialed the hospital. I finally got a doctor on the line....
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Riverdale: Chapter Thirteen: The Sweet Hereafter (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

The Sweet Hereafter
Music by Mychael Danna and Sarah Polley
Lyrics by Robert Browning
Performed by The Sam Dent Band
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User Reviews

Bus Plunge
11 November 2004 | by (anywhere everywhere) – See all my reviews

Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter is a drama of loss and internal conflict within and among the people of small town which has lost its children to a winter bus crash. The central figure is Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm), a lawyer who comes to the town in the hope of putting together a lawsuit on behalf of the surviving families.

Egoyan drags bitter and emotional performances out of his excellent cast, and managed to make me fall in love with a group of characters who, on the surface, are less than appealing. Every major character in his adaptation of Russel Banks' novel is morally bifurcated and riven with doubt.

Particularly interesting from a social perspective is the treatment of Stephens' mission. I thought the lawyer's efforts to put together his suit were played even-handedly, somewhere between the greed of an ambulance-chaser cynically exploiting a local tragedy and the difficult but necessary effort to use a flawed legal system to achieve a kind of justice. But the friends who saw it with me saw Stephens strictly as a "slimeball," placed there to test and tempt the struggling townspeople. If that's the impression that most viewers get, then I'm disappointed.

Whatever your perspective on that social question, there's no denying the slow power of this film. It moves with the measured fascination of inevitability, and leaves you with a bitterness you can savor.


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