7.5/10
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The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

R | | Drama | 21 November 1997 (USA)
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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 ... 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 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:

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:

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:

CAD5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$31,149, 12 October 1997

Gross USA:

$3,263,585

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,263,585
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

Premiere Magazine voted this movie as one of "The 25 Most Dangerous Movies". (In the description for the list, the magazine stated, "These are movies about which you could say, 'That's not entertainment'. They're not 'rides' nor 'diversions'. They are galvanizing experiences that place squarely in your face all the stuff Hollywood usually presumes you go to the movies to get away from. Films that rearrange your head, that challenge your bedrock ideas about life and love and the big sleep. Consciousness-expanders, in other words, but rarely in a pleasant way. Thank God for them.") See more »

Goofs

When Stephens visits the Ottos, and Mr. Otto offers him some tea, we hear a tea kettle whistling but the one we see on the wood stove is not the whistling type, and there is no steam coming from the kettle. See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

References Crash (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

Boy
Music by Mychael Danna
Lyrics by Sarah Polley
Performed by The Sam Dent Band
See more »

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User Reviews

Masterpiece? Or Turgid Nonsense?
15 November 2002 | by ArrivederciBabySee all my reviews

I've seen this film twice now, and had the same reaction both times, so it's not out of gut reaction that I label "The Sweet Hereafer" an odious piece of simple-minded garbage.

The central idea (a school bus crash) has such intrinsic emotional repercussions that I can see how most viewers are washed away in grief enough to not notice the emptiness of the conceit built around it.

As an intruding lawyer, Ian Holm is asked to give a performance of staggeringly self-conscious falseness in which his every word, movement and breath is meant to project "SOMETHING IMPORTANT". His episodic encounters with the people of the community in which the accident took place only reveals Egoyan's total condescension toward life's "little people", presenting them as simpletons who, gosh darn it, love their children and each other and turn their noses up at anything so disgusting as a dollar bill.

In a failed attempt to make at least one character two-dimensional, a subplot is slopped on about the lawyer losing touch with his own child, the most ridiculous drug-addicted banshee every put on film.

Toss in heavy-handed allegories, heart-tugging muzak and trite conclusions, and what have you got? An award-winning "masterpiece", to hear most people talk. More likely they woke up the next morning, remembered something about angelic children heading for their final bus ride, and forgot the manipulative banality of the rest.

View the first episode of Krzysztof Kieslowski's 1988 "Decalogue", which covers similar thematic ground and, in 50 short minutes, accomplishes worlds more.

3 out of 10 for nice work by actors Bruce Greenwood and Sarah Polley.


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