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202 user 101 critic

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

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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.

Director:

Atom Egoyan

Writers:

Russell Banks (novel), Atom Egoyan (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 33 wins & 53 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ian Holm ... Mitchell Stevens
Caerthan Banks Caerthan Banks ... Zoe Stevens
Sarah Polley ... Nicole Burnell
Tom McCamus ... Sam Burnell
Gabrielle Rose ... Dolores Driscoll
Alberta Watson ... Risa
Maury Chaykin ... Wendell
Stephanie Morgenstern ... Allison
Kirsten Kieferle Kirsten Kieferle ... Stewardess
Arsinée Khanjian ... Wanda
Earl Pastko Earl Pastko ... Hartley
Simon Baker ... Bear
David Hemblen ... Abbott
Bruce Greenwood ... Billy
Sarah Rosen Fruitman 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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Canada

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El dulce porvenir See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

CAD 5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$31,149, 10 October 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,252,652, 12 April 1998
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Caerthan Banks is the daughter of Russell Banks, who wrote the source novel. See more »

Goofs

In at least one scene, speeds were mentioned in "miles per hour". For a film set in British Columbia, km/h would have been much more likely. See more »

Quotes

Nicole: As you see her, two years later, I wonder if you realize something. I wonder if you understand that all of us - Dolores, me, the children who survived, the children who didn't - that we're all citizens of a different town now. A place with its own special rules and its own special laws. A town of people living in the sweet hereafter.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in American Dad!: Live and Let Fry (2009) 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
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A haunting tale about how nothing is ever as it seems
25 December 1999 | by AldanoliSee 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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