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The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

TOMATOMETER

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

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

Average Rating: 8.6/10
Reviews Counted: 16
Fresh: 16
Rotten: 0

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

AUDIENCE SCORE

Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 10,895

Trailer


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Movie Info

Mystical, elliptical and confoundingly beautiful film about a town that loses its children and maybe its soul.

Rating:
R (For sexuality and some language)
Genre:
Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
Atom Egoyan
In Theaters:
On DVD:
May 26, 1998
Runtime:
Fine Line Features


Cast


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Critic Reviews for The Sweet Hereafter

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

A delicate and touching story.

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Variety
Top Critic

Though this is Egoyan's first adaptation, The Sweet Hereafter could serve as a model for how to do it right.

Full Review… | February 14, 2001
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic

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
Film.com
Top Critic

a new moral urgency seems to invigorate this film

January 1, 2000
Film.com
Top 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

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.

Full Review… | August 3, 2012
Film Freak Central

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

Full Review… | March 8, 2009
TheMovieReport.com

...intelligent, stately paced film

Full Review… | January 29, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

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

Full Review… | October 24, 2004

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.

Full Review… | July 1, 2004

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

Full Review… | October 15, 2002
Cincinnati Enquirer

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

Full Review… | August 4, 2002
Supercala.com

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

Full Review… | June 5, 2002
Boxoffice Magazine

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

Full Review… | March 1, 2002
Spirituality and Practice

Una obra exquisita.

Full Review… | August 31, 2001
Cinenganos

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

Full Review… | April 17, 2001
BBC.com

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...

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
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.

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

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

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
rec.arts.movies.reviews

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

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Needcoffee.com

Audience Reviews for The Sweet Hereafter

½

A smart moral and sociological exploration, much more subtle than I've come to expect from Atom Egoyan, but I suppose I wanted more...it's pretty bland visually. It doesn't read low-budget by any means, but it sure as hell looks like it.

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ceWEBrity
Drew Smith

Super Reviewer

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.

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ApeneckFletcher
Apeneck Fletcher

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.

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jennifxu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

½

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.

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axadntpron
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

The Sweet Hereafter Quotes


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 (2 years ago)
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)
Mitchell Stephens:
Something's happening that's taking our children away.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
Mitchell Stephens:
Well, enough rage and helplessness and your love turns to something else.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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