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 school-bus 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. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
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Much better than I expected, especially after the wide range of reviews. I thought the story line was good, the acting better. I felt the story moved slowly with purpose, drew me in, then ended in a way I couldn't have expected. It's no "blockbuster" (pardon the pun) but a great movie for home on a rainy cool day...
This is my absolute favorite movie, but it's not for everyone. You have to be in the proper frame of mind cinematically to appreciate such an offbeat, haunting, melancholy and mesmerizing drama, i.e. you should sit and WATCH the movie rather than folding laundry, doing your nails, making dinner, etc. It's a film, not a TV program you watch halfheartedly! I liked it so much that I read the novel from Russell Banks afterwards and was amazed by what was reinterpreted and incorporated into the script to make a filmable screenplay. The book is fantastic in its own right, but you'd never suspect it could translate so well to film; this is one of the all-time best film adaptations ever. For those who say it's "slow and boring" -- check the 100% fresh reviews on the Rotten Tomatoes website, you lack the cognitive ability to enjoy a true work of art.