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The Sweet Hereafter (1997)



Average Rating: 8.9/10
Reviews Counted: 54
Fresh: 54 | Rotten: 0

Director Atom Egoyan examines tragedy and its aftermath with intelligence and empathy.


Average Rating: 8.6/10
Critic Reviews: 16
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 0

Director Atom Egoyan examines tragedy and its aftermath with intelligence and empathy.



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Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 10,746

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Movie Info

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



Atom Egoyan

May 26, 1998

Fine Line Features

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All Critics (62) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (0) | DVD (9)

A delicate and touching story.

November 6, 2002 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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Canadian writer-director Atom Egoyan's most ambitious work to date, The Sweet Hereafter is a rich, complex meditation on the impact of a terrible tragedy on a small town.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Variety
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Though this is Egoyan's first adaptation, The Sweet Hereafter could serve as a model for how to do it right.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
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As in Egoyan's Exotica and The Adjuster, past and present are intricately fused by the crisp editing, the mournful shadings of Mychael Danna's score and Paul Sarossy's austere wide-screen cinematography

January 1, 2000
Top Critic IconTop Critic

a new moral urgency seems to invigorate this film

January 1, 2000
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film searches for that place in the heart where we feel sadness and squeezes it persuasively.

January 1, 2000
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In its unsparing depiction of the loneliness and despair that afflicts the tragedy-wracked town of Sam Dent, The Sweet Hereafter is one of the coldest movies ever made.

August 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Cuts to the bone and stays there long after its end credits have finished rolling.

March 8, 2009 Full Review Source:

...intelligent, stately paced film

January 29, 2005 Full Review Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Molds the past, present, and future into a tapestry of the cyclical nature of human suffering.

October 24, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinematic Reflections

Based on Russell Banks' tragic novel about a town grieving for 14 children killed in a bus crash, easily makes my list of top 1997 films.

July 1, 2004 Full Review Source: Courier-Journal (Louisville, KY)

Visits the impossible contradictions of bereavement with clear-eyed compassion.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

This isn't a "flick" or a "movie". This is a film.

August 4, 2002 Full Review

A stirring portrait of a community struggling to heal in the wake of a crisis.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

Explores the ways in which a tragedy enhances rather than diminishes a town's sense of community.

March 1, 2002 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice | Comments (2)
Spirituality and Practice

Una obra exquisita.

August 31, 2001 Full Review Source: Cinenganos

...Egoyan looks at the essence of guilt and the complexity of human relationships in all their rich variety.

April 17, 2001 Full Review Source: BBC

Egoyan has also made his most emotionally acessible film to date without losing that rigorous intellectualism that makes his work such a rewarding challenge for persistent viewers.

January 1, 2000
Jam! Movies

The naked emotion of tragedy weighs on every frame...

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: SPLICEDWire

It's definitely not an easy film to watch, though, since it's so unflinching in its portrayal of incest and, if possible, is even more unsettling in the way it exposes dirty little secrets without trying to make its characters sympathetic.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

Exquisitely intense, and far from sweet. Ian Holm is sublime.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

The best way to sum up this film is in two words that came to me while the credits were rolling: 'quietly shattering.'

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for The Sweet Hereafter

Quiet and solemn this work by Atom Egoyan is so beautiful and moving that I found myself gasping as the roots of a small town are ripped asunder by an unfortunate accident. Must see.
June 18, 2011

Super Reviewer

The Sweet Hereafter is exquisite. Innocent, mysterious, prescient, nervy, calm - I love the whole concept of examining a town in the aftershocks of a tragedy; it's like exposing the bone and sinew of a body and running your fingers through the skeleton that remains.
May 2, 2011

Super Reviewer

A bittersweet little piece of film about a town consumed by the death of many of the citizen's children in a school bus accident. Egoyan's movie is pensive and beautifully paced. The chronology is divided in a way that let's past, present, and future coalesce into a solemn piece about the cyclical nature of human misfortune. The director doesn't want us to experience the tragedy itself and instead lets us watch from afar, just as helpless as any witness to such a calamity. The camera gently glides into every scene and around the characters in such a way that isn't partial, but possibly the only source of objectivity in a time when everyone seems to be exploiting this disaster by making it the scapegoat for all the wrongdoing in their personal lives.
Also, rather than using this tragedy to exploit our emotions, Egoyan touches on important issues such as the decay of the community. Even in small smallest of places in which there once was a communal self sufficiency, Egoyan shows that the promise of material gain corrupts the quietest of souls. A young Sarah Polley even states in the film that, "we're citizens of a different town now", one that is living in the sweet hereafter.
My main problem with the film seems to be the casting of Ian Holm. His character is very complex. Shrewd, but deeply broken. While I enjoy Holm as an actor, I don't feel as though he embodied all of these elements which would have made this film really land.
None the les, It is a devastating but really beautiful film about personal tragedy and it would behoove you to spend some time with it.
March 29, 2011
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

    1. Dolores Driscoll: I wasn't driving anymore, the bus was like this huge wave about to break over us. Bear Otto, the Lampston kids, the Hamiltons, the Prescott, the teenage boys and girls from Bartlett Hill Rd, Pete, Suzy, Laura, Rick, Sean Walker, Nocole Burnell, Billy Ansel's twins, Jessica and Mason. All the children of my town.
    – Submitted by Pete H (23 months ago)
    1. Nicole Burnell: We're all citizens of a different town now. A place with its own special rules and its own special laws. A town of people living in the sweet hereafter. Where waters gushed and fruit trees grew, and flowers put forth a fairer hue, and everything was strange and new.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
    1. Mitchell Stephens: Something's happening that's taking our children away.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Mitchell Stephens: Well, enough rage and helplessness and your love turns to something else.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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Latest News on The Sweet Hereafter

September 7, 2005:
Trailer Bulletin: Where the Truth Lies
From Atom Egoyan, director of "Exotica," "The Sweet Hereafter," and...
August 22, 2005:
Egoyan's "Truth" May Lie with an NC-17
ThinkFilm, distributor of the new Atom Egoyan film "Where the Truth Lies," plans to appeal...

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