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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Author Russell Banks went on record saying that he thought the film was an improvement over his novel. 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 »
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.
No, Mr. Ansel. I wouldn't sue you.
You leave us alone, Stephens. You leave the people of this town alone.
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A haunting tale about how nothing is ever as it seems
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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