1991-2000ArthouseAtom EgoyanDramaUSA

Atom Egoyan – The Sweet Hereafter [+Extras] (1997)

The Sweet Hereafter deals with the effects of a tragic school bus crash on a ravishingly beautiful small town set amid the scenic mountains of British Columbia. Outsider Ian Holm arrives, much like the Pied Piper, a lawyer trying to lure the citizens of the town into a class-action suit that would allow the mourning parents to try to sate their immense loss with the small solace of cash. Where Egoyan has dealt with emotional traumas of different sorts of outsiders and marginal characters in the past, with this adaptation, he has made a stirring portrait of the effects of loss within a community. –Ray Pride

Atom Egoyan’s haunting adaptation of the Russell Banks novel The Sweet Hereafter was the Canadian filmmaker’s most successful film to date, taking home a Special Grand Jury Prize at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival and scoring a pair of Academy Award nominations, including Best Director. Restructured to fit Egoyan’s signature mosaic narrative style, the story concerns the cultural aftershocks which tear apart a small British Columbia town in the wake of a schoolbus accident which leaves a number of local children dead. Ian Holm stars as Mitchell Stephens, a big-city lawyer who arrives in the interest of uniting the survivors to initiate a lawsuit; his maneuvering only drives the community further apart, reopening old wounds and jeopardizing any hopes of emotional recovery. Like so many of Egoyan’s features, The Sweet Hereafter is a serious and painfully honest exploration of family grief; no character is immune from the sense of utter devastation which grips the film, not even the attorney, whose interests are in part motivated by his own remorse over the fate of his daughter, an HIV-positive drug addict. A sobering, beautifully-realized examination of the ties that bind — and which can be severed at any time. –Jason Ankeny



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