The Sweet Hereafter (1997) - Plot Summary Poster


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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.

  • 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.

  • On a snowy winter morning in a small isolated community nestled in the mountains, Dolores Driscoll is driving the school bus with her load of children like she has most school mornings for the past fifteen years. Also not unusual for that day is that Billy Adsel is following the bus in his truck, waving to his twin children, Jessica and Mason, who always sit at the back of the bus and wave back to their father. What is different this morning though is that the bus hits an icy patch, careens over the side of the road and crashes through the ice into the lake below. Among those mourning the death of their children are Billy, the Walkers who lost their developmentally challenged son Sean, and the Ottos who lost their adopted aboriginal son Bear. The faces of the living from that accident are aspiring songstress Nicole Burnell the accident which resulted in her being confined to a wheelchair, and Dolores. Descending onto the town is big city ambulance chasing lawyer Mitchell Stephens, who wants to represent all the affected families, including the Driscolls, in a class action lawsuit for damages against the companies and organizations with the deepest pockets. Some families accept Stephens' help as a way to cope with their grief. Others see the possibility of a financial windfall. And others, such as Billy, don't want anything to do with the lawsuit. But Stephens brings with him his own grief over a child, that being the loss of a caring relationship with his drug addicted daughter, Zoe. Life in the town wasn't perfect before that day, but is forever altered with this incident.



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