The Sweet Hereafter 1997 R CC

Amazon Instant Video

(166) IMDb 7.7/10
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A small community is torn apart by a tragic accident which kills most of the town's children. As a lawyer visits the victims' parents in hopes of launching a class action suit.

Starring:
Ian Holm, Caerthan Banks
Runtime:
1 hour, 53 minutes

Available to watch on supported devices.

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Product Details

Genres Drama
Director Atom Egoyan
Starring Ian Holm, Caerthan Banks
Supporting actors Sarah Polley, Tom McCamus, Gabrielle Rose, Alberta Watson, Maury Chaykin, Stephanie Morgenstern, Kirsten Kieferle, Arsinée Khanjian, Earl Pastko, Simon Baker, David Hemblen, Bruce Greenwood, Sarah Rosen Fruitman, Marc Donato, Devon Finn, Fides Krucker, Magdalena Sokoloski, James D. Watts
Studio New Line
MPAA rating R (Restricted)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Rental rights 24 hour viewing period. Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Instant Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on January 16, 2004
Format: DVD
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.
BEK
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Costantino on June 10, 2005
Format: DVD
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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 27, 1999
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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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Francois Tremblay on November 11, 2003
Format: DVD
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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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Shashank Tripathi on February 1, 2005
Format: DVD
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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