7.6/10
28,404
200 user 96 critic

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

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

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 33 wins & 52 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Caerthan Banks ...
...
Tom McCamus ...
...
...
...
Wendell
...
Kirsten Kieferle ...
Stewardess
...
Wanda
Earl Pastko ...
Hartley
...
Bear
David Hemblen ...
Abbott
...
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  »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$73,547 (USA) (23 November 1997)

Gross:

$3,252,652 (USA) (12 April 1998)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Atom Egoyan was inspired to do this movie by a novel his wife Arsinée Khanjian gave him as a Christmas gift. 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: Tell me your news, Zoe.
Zoe: Okay. Yesterday I went to sell my blood. I'm in this fucking city, and I'm selling my blood.
Mitchell Stephens: That's not news, Zoe.
Zoe: No, but this is. They wouldn't take my blood. Do you know what that means, Daddy? Does it register? I tested positive.
Zoe: Welcome to hard times, Daddy.
Mitchell Stephens: What do you want me to do, Zoe? I'll do whatever you want.
Zoe: I need money.
Mitchell Stephens: What for?
Zoe: No, you CANNOT ask me that. YNot anymore. You asked me what I wanted, not what I wanted it for. I want money.
Mitchell Stephens: Do you have a ...
[...]
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Soundtracks

The Sweet Hereafter
(uncredited)
Music by Mychael Danna and Sarah Polley
Lyrics by Robert Browning
Performed by The Sam Dent Band
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User Reviews

 
Tragic and beautiful masterpiece
24 October 2000 | by (Bochum, Germany) – See all my reviews

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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