The Sweet Hereafter Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ May 24, 2011
A smart moral and sociological exploration, much more subtle than I've come to expect from Atom Egoyan, but I suppose I wanted's pretty bland visually. It doesn't read low-budget by any means, but it sure as hell looks like it.
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
May 2, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
½ March 28, 2011
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.
Super Reviewer
March 11, 2011
This was an unusual fare, but fortunately a pleasant one. The chemistry of different relationships is displayed excellently herein. The length of the movie is also appropriate. The metaphor applied between the movie's story and the pied piper poem is brilliant. However, I was a bit disappointed by the ending. (It was as if the filmmaker had hit the ball strongly but got caught on the boundary line.) But you can't have everything as you wish. To each, their own.

Go, refresh "The Pied Piper" poem that you may have adored in your childhood.
Super Reviewer
½ November 26, 2009
A brave and unflinching look at guilt, loss, innocence, and grief. Nearly a perfect film, thanks in large part to Ian Holm's restrained but still powerful performance as an outsider trying to help the citizens of a small town seek justice for a horrible event involving many of the town's children after a horrific school bus accident. Although one of the themes it tries to instill feels a little too forced (incest), this is a near flawless motion picture, one that should definitely be seen due to its sheer honesty and bravery concerning the innocence lost in a nice little town that is struggling to recover and cope with its aftermath.
Super Reviewer
July 2, 2009
This is another film from the 1997 Toronto International Film Festival. And again like each of the other films from this festival we have a excellent film. Was inspired by the 1989 school bus crash in Alton, Texas. Directed by: Atom Egoyan. A Small town, has a tragic bus accident, where bus driver loses control and the bus plunges into a frozen lake, with a father following his children to school, he watches the bus sink through the ice. A lawyer shows up to interview each person involved to start a law suite. Mean while his own daughter is involved with drugs. Ian Holm plays the lawyer and does an excellent job. Acting by all is outstanding. 4 Stars and a Must See, I was surprised to see it listed for under $6.00 on Amazon
Super Reviewer
May 11, 2009
What could have been one of those sickly Hollywood films where a Lawyer seeks compensation for the downtrodden, is instead a harsh and unflinching critique of human nature. Holm is excellent as a lawyer that has lost his daughter to drugs and as his own kind of retribution, he tries to "help" the families that lost their children in a bus crash. What Holm fails to realise is that he is simply stirring up anger and greed in a community he doesn't understand. We see the secret and even dark sides of these peoples lives. Nobody comes off as perfect or inspirational. Holm is decent in his actions, but flawed in his approach. Some of the parents may be seeking justice, but are eventually motivated by greed. Even one of the survivors turns the event/lawsuit into her own weapon of spite. Complex and unforgiving, The Sweet Hereafter will inspire thought and conversation. No wonder it made Premiere's "25 Most Dangerous Movies Ever" list.
Super Reviewer
½ March 10, 2009
This is an evidently well-crafted film... so much so that I almost feel like I should spend the whole movie pointing that out and not watching it. That may in fact be Atom Egoyan's biggest downfall: he's so busy showing everyone just how brilliant he is that he doesn't really focus on just doing something brilliant.

Nevertheless, this is a difficult movie - growing up in a small town, I recognize a lot of these (types of) people - and is still rather good, and Ian Holm and Sarah Polley shine in it. The latter, in fact, appears to show just how much she's learned from Egoyan about film-making in her directorial debut (Away From Her). I fear the pupil has surpassed the teacher.
Super Reviewer
November 18, 2008
Thought-provoking script and a very good movie. Combining the story of the devastation that is caused when most of a small town's children die in an accident and questionable relationships between two of the main characters and their daughters.

Watch it if you can.
Super Reviewer
October 17, 2006
Super Reviewer
½ October 21, 2007
Atom Egoyan's best film
Super Reviewer
½ August 15, 2007
A sad film with some strong performances. It's solid and deeply emotional.
Super Reviewer
½ March 18, 2012
A complex, multi-layered story of loss and secrets and lies, beautifully told by a master filmmaker. Ian Holm plays Mitchell Stephens, a lawyer who comes to a small Canadian town that has just experienced the loss of several of the children in a tragic bus accident. He hopes to get several of the affected families to sign on to let him represent them in a lawsuit and in so doing he creates a new tension and division in the townsfolk. The supporting cast was excellent, with Sarah Polley, as a teen who survives the wreck but is severely injured, and Alberta Watson, as a mother who lost her child, turning in especially fine performances. The stark winter landscape, the way the tale unfolds in the past, the present and the future, and the quiet reveals that illustrate just how much is hidden behind the veil of good reputations combined with the literary device that links the story to the Pied Piper of Hamlen all reveal the brilliance of the director, Atom Egoyan. This viewer had heard many good things about this film going in, which often only sets one up for disappointment, but happily, The Sweet Hereafter delivers.
Super Reviewer
October 30, 2012
Egoyan's masterpiece about a town who loses their children in a horrific bus accident. Marvellous.
Super Reviewer
½ April 23, 2010
Touching film about the impact on a small-town community when the school bus tragically crashes, taking most of their children with it. Enter one lawyer, ostensibly to focus and salve the parent's grief, but really to appease his conscience about his own family problems. A healthy discussion on the in's and out's of blame and compensation in our litiginous times, and Ian Holm does a sterling job as the outsider who means well, but only adds to the wreckage of lives.
Super Reviewer
October 20, 2009
I was initially intrigued by the film because it gave Ian Holm, one of our greatest actors, a lead role. He is great in this and the whole film works wonderfully. Atom Egoyan has fashioned a film that is completely about loss. Its not about lawsuits or a town banding together. Its about people who have lost a great deal and may never get it back. The film features a remarkable ensemble cast. There are standouts (Holm along with Sarah Polley and Bruce Greenwood are amazing), but everyone works in their perspective roles. The title seems to suggest something cheesy, it is far from that and it is very good.
Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2006
Egoyan's gloomy, contemplative study of loss and its effect on a community is not without faults, despite its unanimous praise from critics. It is a beautiful script full of subtext and truth, and the amount of levels brought to the story is really admirable. Egoyan directs his picture with a lot of grace too, and from a technical standpoint it's a pretty polished film. Having said all that, there are a lot of moments where the acting is cringe-worthy, to the extent where it detracts from the power of the story. Of course, I wouldn't include Ian Holm or Sarah Polley in that criticism (both of them perform excellently).
Super Reviewer
½ January 27, 2010
Very subtle, and yet so powerful. Plus a wonderful performance from Ian Holm.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
March 26, 2010
Painstakingly crafted by one of my fav filmmakers Atom Egoyan. A small town coummunity living in dread after a horrific school bus accident, a lawyer(Ian Holm) comes into the small community and wants justice to be served. Others feel that reviving the case will only bring up more grief and more bad memories.

The character who strikes me the most is played by Sarah Polley who is the soul survivor of the accident. She looks discouraged and unhappy.(confined in a wheelchair and an
unhealthy relationship with her father) Polley's character testifies to what really happened during that terrible time, but is it enough to personally heal her? You will know what I mean when you watch this empathetic picture.
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