The Sweet Hereafter


The Sweet Hereafter (1997)


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


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

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Critic Reviews for The Sweet Hereafter

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (17)

There's a mesmerizing clarity to The Sweet Hereafter': you're moved by it, but you never feel the filmmaker is milking your emotions.

Mar 5, 2018 | Full Review…
Top Critic

A delicate and touching story.

Nov 6, 2002 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

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.

Feb 14, 2001 | Full Review…
Top Critic

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

Feb 14, 2001 | Rating: 4.5/5 | Full Review…

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

Jan 1, 2000

A beautiful elegy about family and community, death and healing...

Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Sweet Hereafter


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.

Drew Smith
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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

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.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

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.

Reid Volk
Reid Volk

Super Reviewer

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