7.6/10
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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:

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

Donald Sutherland was originally cast as Mitchell Stephens, but had to back out, and was replaced by Sir Ian Holm at the last minute. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Mitchell Stephens: I woke to the sound of Zoe's breathing. It was laboured. I looked over and noticed she was sweating and all swollen. I grabbed her, rushed to the kitchen, and splashed water on her face.
Alison: What happened?
Mitchell Stephens: I didn't know. I was in a panic. I guessed she'd been bitten by an insect, but there was no doctor. The nearest hospital was forty miles away, and Zoe was continuing to swell. Klara took her in her arms and tried to breast-feed her, while I dialed the hospital. I finally got a doctor on the line....
[...]
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Connections

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

Soundtracks

Courage
Words and Music by The Tragically Hip
Sam Dent version arranged by Mychael Danna
Vocal by Sarah Polley
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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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