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The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

Ian Holm , Sarah Polley , Atom Egoyan  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, Caerthan Banks, Tom McCamus, Gabrielle Rose
  • Directors: Atom Egoyan
  • Writers: Atom Egoyan, Russell Banks
  • Producers: Atom Egoyan, Andras Hamori, Camelia Frieberg, David J. Webb, Robert Lantos
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: iNetVideo
  • Run Time: 112 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000065KBX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,100 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Sweet Hereafter" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Egoyan's Masterpiece, The Sweet Hereafter is a beautiful, stark, honest, poetic, and emotionally devastating examination of human nature and human resilience in the face of tragedy. A metropolitan attorney travels to a small B.C. town where 14 chi

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Film to Ponder, but Far from Ponderous January 16, 2004
I can't fathom anyone watching this movie through without being deeply moved, at times disturbed, and shaken to some degree. It really does delve down into the dark night of the soul, like the cinematic equivalent of a Sylvia Plath poem. It's a film about loss. Innocence lost, the questionability of ideals and motives. The end of childhood. Yet Egoyan doesn't deliver a totally bleak jeremiad here, either. Human beings are flawed, but they also are capable of growth and wisdom, though both are hard earned.
As usual with Egoyan films, nature is at a distance and a remove from human beings and the turmoil brimming over inside them. The beautiful BC vistas are in contrast to the tragic event that occurs. It's a bit like the end of Moby Dick, when the Pequod is smashed and sinks, while the sun smiles down serenely on the calm sea. I think Egoyan's getting at the same thing Melville is, as well. It's an existentialist's way of looking at the universe. If we're looking for a higher power to bail us out, we're out of luck. Our other moral constructs are pretty shaky, as well. We tend to think a little better of ourselves than is often the case.
As is also usual, Egoyan assembles an excellent cast, that feed off of each other's honest performances. No wrong notes here. Cinematography also up to the usual high standard. My appreciation for Egoyan's work increases with each new film I see. Personal thanks to the reviewer who led me to the works of this auteur director, in the best sense of that term.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wheels on the Bus June 10, 2005
If you have children, plan to have children, or know of any children living in your area seek this movie out. From it's haunting opening music, to its somber, yet life affirming tone, The Sweet Hereafter is one helluva soul jerkin' drama.

It gives you a gut punch/ sucker punch combo all the way through, a harrowing study of the reverberations and impact of an instant.

Sarah Polley is an otherworldly talent, portraying a child possessing creepy wisdom and the voice of a dew eyed angel.

People still talk about this film today, because it entrenches itself into the minds of viewers with a conscience. Quite possibly one of the saddest, smartest, and touching films I've ever seen.

The soundtrack is mesmerizing, you will feel compelled to purchase it.

P.S. If this movie doesn't get to you in some way your heart is but a cinder.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Haunts Me August 27, 1999
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Without trying to be haughty, I feel truly sorry for reviewers who disliked this film. You really missed the boat. This film is so subtly and poignantly beautiful, so well crafted, so perfectly scored and acted, that my wife and I literally puffed out a long, deep "Wow" upon the film's conclusion. The character portrayals, the metaphors, the messages relayed concerning human nature and our society, also make this film an excellent subject for intellectual discussion. We rented this film 10 months ago, and still reflect on it regularly. If you enjoy films that make you think, that require you to participate with your mind to garner the film's intent and purpose, and that can state all that needs to be said through a well-filmed, perfectly conveyed facial expression, you will love this movie.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A movie resonant with truth November 11, 2003
I am dissapointed by movies, as a general rule. Few movies, even independent ones, dare to speak about anything but the obvious. Some movies have great acting and visual style. Others have a structure that enhance the story and themes, or explore uncommonly profound themes. It's rare that one finds all of these things together in one mind-blowing film.
The Sweet Hereafter is one such mindblowing film. It is about a terrible bus accident that kills 15 children, although we only see it from afar, and halfway into the movie - the accident is a pivotal temporal point but not the focus. The focus is on the actions surrounding that accident, and what they tell us. All the while, the story is not told in chronological order, but more or less in thematical order. Past, present and future are shuffled effortlessly, because the accident is our anchor to the story.
The story concerns many people, but especially one Mitchell Stephens, played by Ian Holm, as a lawyer hired by the Walkers (one of the victimized families) to start a class action lawsuit. He hops from family to family, from evidence to evidence, in increasingly manipulative attempts to rally town inhabitants to his cause, while the sordid secrets of the community threaten to derail him at every turn. A survivor, Nicole, is now handicapped and holds an important testimony.
Ian Holm never had a leading role before this movie. Watching his incredible performance, I want to scream bloody murder. He's perfect. That this guy can't get a leading role is mind-bogglingly insane. The other actors, though less well-known, don't unbalance the movie at all.
At first, it seems that the movie is a simple left-right conflict, with the hypocrite and conniving community on one hand, and the profiteering lawyer from the big city on the other hand.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LAYERED, LYRICAL PROBE INTO COPING WITH GRIEF February 1, 2005
The simple, smooth lives of a small Canadian town nestled in snow-capped peaks of British Columbia are jarred by a schoolbus accident that takes the lives of some kids and brutally hurts others.

The film intimately tiptoes into the homes of affected parents, each with their own perspective and mien, but connected by a lawyer from out of town bent upon instigating them to dig deeper into the tragedy's cause and sue those responsible.

But what makes this caper special is how deeply we relate to each character in the film. The lawyer for instance (played impeccably by Holm) may come across as a swindling ambulance-chaser at first, but as much as we feel ready to dismiss his callous opportunism we can't because we are privy to his own personal anguish -- it's almost as if his keenness to help the town were driven by his search for an outlet for his own pent-up emotions. There is a lingering subplot about incest in one family, which in hindsight is pivotal to the film, but there's never a condescending tone about it.

In fact, The Sweet Hereafter impetuosly blackballs the idea of revenge or malice in coming to terms with a loss of this nature and scope. Instead it sanely depicts a community caring for itself through mutual healing. Even a lie told delicately and with the right timing can be a much-needed suture on a gaping wound. It's stirring to see how this plays out.

If you've seen Exotica, you are familiar with Egoyan's lyrical screenplays. The narrative here is a brilliant riff on the tale of the Pied Piper; it comes on in voiceover at just the right points but manages to signify something different each time. Danna's exotic score lends a sombre yet serene texture to the anxious proceedings.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember Integrity goes a long way
An accident happens or was it an accident? Difficult decisions are made by an outside attorney. The local people have their own views or do they? Read more
Published 25 days ago by Mr. Rodriguez
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pied Piper of Hamlin
Intriguing film with an underscore reading of The Pied Piper of Hamlin. The music and atmosphere do much to make the film one that is intriguing and interesting to watch. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Anthony F. Runfalo
5.0 out of 5 stars movie i ordered was great!
it was an awesome film and it arrived just as expected and in perfect condotion ! Don't ya just love Amazon?
Published 1 month ago by dale downey
4.0 out of 5 stars Startlingly real
Super movie! Keeps your attention the entire time with the personalities onscreen. Disturbing and thought-provoking ending too that made us chat for days. You'll dig it.
Published 4 months ago by captaincaptain
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best
I've seen this movie 3 or 4 times over the years and consider it one of the best movies ever. Read more in depth reviews about the tragic plot and great acting. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dan
3.0 out of 5 stars Time in Purgatory.
The Sweet Hereafter (Atom Egoyan, 1997)
[originally posted 23Jul2001]

Atom Egoyan, helming the upcoming film of Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin, takes a... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Robert Beveridge
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound and touching
A nearly perfect film. The script is superb, the acting is superb and it remains one of the movies to watch when one wants an evening with substance. Read more
Published 5 months ago by E. Simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars Difficult Storyline, Small Town Living
My son came home from middle school one day to show me the book he had checked out of the library. It was The Sweek Hereafter. Read more
Published 5 months ago by K. Groh
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this
What can you say about one of the greatest moments in film history. ( spoiler alert) , when watching the dad following the bus and waving to his girls without a clue about what... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Raindance
1.0 out of 5 stars Read the novel instead.
The movie was supposed to be an incisive portrait of grief. Instead, it was two hours of people crying. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
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