The Sweet Hereafter (Egoyan, 1997)

The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan, 1997)

Despite much high praise for this film, it took me forever to see it. The film is set in a small town where a school bus accident has just killed and injured several local children. As you might know by now, I love a small town setting in a film, so this was a big positive. The fact that so many people were effected by the accident, but only a few are focused on throughout the film is a big plus for Egoyan as well. This could easily have been a film with a lot of characters, but none fully fleshed out. Watching the residents’ grief unfold in several different ways was heartbreaking. Bruce Greenwood is especially fantastic as the only parent not interested in finding someone to blame for the accident.

The film’s plot itself is about a lawyer who comes into town to research possible lawsuit potentials. The film flashes between his time with local residents, and his time with his drug-addict daughter. The film says a lot about what it means to be dead (both physically and spiritually), and about relationships between parent and offspring. This film was heart-wrenching, and I don’t even have kids. The only thing about this film I didn’t care for were some of the monologues which become a little too heavy-handed. Otherwise, though, this is an excellent film. 9/10


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