7.6/10
29,239
203 user 101 critic

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.

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Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Mitchell Stevens
Caerthan Banks ... Zoe Stevens
... Nicole Burnell
... Sam Burnell
... Dolores Driscoll
... Risa
... Wendell
... Allison
Kirsten Kieferle ... Stewardess
... Wanda
Earl Pastko ... Hartley
... Bear
... Abbott
... Billy
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:

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

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 November 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El dulce porvenir  »

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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
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Was #2 on Roger Ebert 's list of the "Best Films of 1997". 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

Billy Ansell: Mitchell Stephens, Esquire. Tell me, would you be likely to sue me if I was to beat you right now? I mean, beat you so bad you piss blood and couldn't walk for a month. Because that's what I'm about to do.
Mitchell Stephens: No, Mr. Ansel. I wouldn't sue you.
Billy Ansell: You leave us alone, Stephens. You leave the people of this town alone.
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Connections

Spoofed in There's Something About Mary (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

 
Tragic and beautiful masterpiece

The Sweet Hereafter is as tragic, sad and matter-of-fact as movies get, but it's still so very beautiful that it becomes a film that's virtually impossible to forget.

The story makes no secret of the fact what terrible tragedy will happen, right from the outset. A lesser filmmaker than Atom Egoyan would've jumped at the chance to shock the audience with the freak accident that robs the town of Sam Dent of nearly all their children, by telling the story in a linear fashion. Not Egoyan. The story is fragmented, thus enhancing the true point: This is not about the overwhelming power of loss, it is about the overwhelming power of survivor's guilt (nicely represented in Browning's poem The Pied Piper Of Hamelin, which is referred to in the movie). It's all about people who grieve not only for the ones they've lost, but also for themselves, how empty their lives have become because of their tragedies. In focussing on that point, the film refrains from manipulative sentiment (which so many others don't), and presents true and unintrusive emotion, that, in the end, despite all the terror, shines a light of hope, for the sweet hereafter is not only the peaceful afterlife, it's also the peaceful future, the continuation of life...

The performances speak for themselves. Ian Holm and Sarah Polley shine in particular, through nicely subdued and subtle acting. Polley also excels as a fantastic singer-songwriter. The songs in the movie were written and performed all by herself.

Egoyan's direction is simply masterful in its beauty, elegance and evocation.

One of the best films of the 1990s.

10 out of 10.


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