The Sweet Hereafter

1997

Action / Drama

107
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 98%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 86%
IMDb Rating 7.5 10 31334

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Synopsis


Uploaded By: OTTO
August 28, 2013 at 01:19 AM

Director

Cast

Ian Holm as Mitchell Stevens
Sarah Polley as Nicole Burnell
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
811.84 MB
1280*720
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
1 hr 52 min
P/S 4 / 8
1.64 GB
1920*1080
English 2.0
R
23.976 fps
1 hr 52 min
P/S 4 / 23

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by jaredmobarak 10 / 10

Wiggle your noses and have fun … The Sweet Hereafter

How much money is your child worth? Is that a question you could ever fathom yourself asking? Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter broaches the subject with devastating results, showing the many ways in which one could lose their offspring and the pain and suffering it causes. But can that pain be tempered by a monetary settlement or a name being punished with a slap on the wrist? No, of course not. Vengeance will only feed your lust for blood; it will only make you go deeper and deeper into a descent towards hell. There comes a time where you must look at your life and feel rewarded for the time you've had and be able to move on, no matter how slow and painful that transition may be. This film is pretty much perfect on all counts—story, acting, pacing, directing, you name it. As it went on, I couldn't help but think of David Gordon Green's film Snow Angels and the comparisons of loss and renewal as thematic backbones. Interestingly enough, both of these films were my first foray into the two director's oeuvres, both possibly their most sorrowful and heartfelt, making me want to visit the rest of their works. What the similarity also does, over ten years later, is prove Egoyan himself correct. My screening of The Sweet Hereafter was followed by a Q&A with editor Susan Shipman who spoke of how just that morning Atom told her, upon revisiting the film, that "I think it holds up". He couldn't be more right; its relevance has stood the test of time.

At its core, the film is about the loss of innocence, the disintegration of the parent/child dynamic. Values had started to fall by the wayside as people began living their lives with a drive for money and power, allowing drugs and greed to destroy any semblance of compassion and morals. "We've all lost our children," says Ian Holm's Mitchell Stevens, a cutthroat lawyer looking for blood by suing a manufacturing firm for a horrible accident that really had no one's fault to blame, but also a loving father who lost his hope and dream of the idyllic family. Each and every character has lost someone dear to them, whether that be the parents of the children who perished in the school bus accident at the center of it all; the driver Dolores, (wonderfully played by Gabrielle Rose), upon losing all the children of her town and surviving; or Holm with an estranged child who has been in and out of drug abuse clinics for over a decade, possibly dying or just scamming him for money any chance she gets. Love is shown in all its many forms, from a father's incestuous relationship with his daughter, to the unencumbered joy in an adopted Indigenous son, to the worrisome mother for her learning disabled child, to the father who knows he enables his daughter's drug habit, but can't stop because there may be one time when she actually isn't lying to him. Love is a gamble that you take with your heart, and through the good and bad, it can never be a mistake.

What I will never forget, besides the heartbreaking instances and lingering close-ups of actors' faces mirroring the hurt they feel, (I loved the extreme framing in parts of just mouths, or even abstract compositions of a ferris wheel in the bottom left hand corner and sweeping aerial shots from a winding road to the wispy clouds in the sky), are the amazing performances. An early role for Canadian beauty Sarah Polley shows the burgeoning success she has found since, Ian Holm relays how good he is with a more challenging and rewarding role than the hailed bit part in Garden State, and Maury Chaykin, with commanding presence in a short scene, resonates both his humor and gossip yet also his sense of community in a warped way. There were also a couple of truly great turns from Tom McCamus and Bruce Greenwood. McCamus plays Polley's father with a very intriguing interior makeup. Truly loving his daughter, too much in fact with regards to their presumed sexual relationship, he always has a smile mixed with apparent awkwardness, unsure of his role in her life. Complicated to the end, it is his performing without words in two later pivotal scenes that shine most. As for Greenwood, he is by far my favorite. After losing his wife to cancer, he will do anything for his twins, even following their school bus each morning to wave at them. That fact put him in firsthand view of the accident and the realization that sometimes life just deals you a bad hand. The most tragic and also the most realistic of them all, it is his resolve that ultimately saves this quiet town from complete implosion.

What it all comes down to is a group of people grieving together and helping each other cope with a horrific event felt by all. Someone in the audience asked Shipman how Dolores could ever get a bus job again after Nicole lies, blaming her for the accident. What that person didn't understand is that the lie is what made it possible. By completely destroying any chance of a lawsuit against the bus makers, no one is held at fault. A new lawsuit would have to be brought up against Dolores to truly hold her accountable, so that lie then put her fate in the hands of community, who in turn absolved her of any guilt she most certainly already holds in her heart. As the overshadowing tale of "The Pied Piper" shows a hatred that only leads to more pain—using his magic for revenge rather than just getting what he wanted and leaving—only Greenwood's Billy Ansel and Polley's Nicole see the light in forgiveness and honoring those lost rather than treading over their graves with more and more hate. Sometimes doing nothing is the hardest and most difficult thing to do.

Reviewed by dog-56427 10 / 10

Spoiler: Nicole and Billy?

I've seen this movie a few times and I believe Nicole is sexually involved with Billy Ansel as well as her father. The clue comes if you watch her clothes. When she leaves the baby sitting she is wearing a skirt and a blue sweater. When Billy Ansel arrives back with the headlights shining on Nicole she is wearing blue jeans. That puts Billy in the house when Nicole changes clothes and in the scene showing her changing she is in the bedroom and Billy's ex wife's clothes are sitting on the bed. Either the shining head lights scene is a goof (Nicole wearing the wrong clothes) or this is a hay maker I have never seen in a movie before. Up until now I thought the clothes changing scene was before Billy came back. If this was intended and not a goof this film is about a 15 out of 10 and the best film ever made by far and probably the best mystery also. Am I the only person who got this?

Reviewed by two-rivers 10 / 10

Willingly Seduced: The Attraction of the Pied Piper

"The Sweet Hereafter" is another denomination for paradise, as it is to be enjoyed in afterlife. In the Robert Browning poem about the Pied Piper, which is read by Nicole, the only child surviving the bus accident, one of the kids is lame and cannot follow the call of the Piper. It is therefore "bereft of all the pleasant sights they see" and henceforth has to endure the dullness of life in a town that has been deprived of all playmates.

The same happens to Nicole, who will be confined to a life in a wheelchair while the entire young population of the little town of Sam Dent, British Columbia, is now enjoying the pleasures of heaven. Her sadness is understandable, but it is equally plausible that it should lead to anger and the urge to revenge.

It is obviously the lawyer Mitchell Stephens that provokes her indignation. He can also be seen as a kind of pied piper, but not one whose commitment leads to the entrance of paradise. His goal is the fulfillment of earthly materialistic pleasures, and therefore he tries to persuade the relatives of the deceased children to file a lawsuit against the bus company for damage. In case of success, he would also benefit from the verdict and encash one third of the allocated sum.

The necessity of mourning for the bereaved ones has been substituted by sheer business matters, and the greed for money has become the new incentive. And it is Stephens who has to be blamed for that change of disposition.

But there is no compensation possible for the loss of human life. Nicole understands that and makes a fateful decision. Being chosen as a chief witness and asked in a pretrial-hearing about the circumstances of the bus accident, Nicole consciously gives a false testimony accusing the bus driver of having driven at excessive speed. Now the planned trial against the bus company cannot take place, and Mitchell Stephen's materialistic dreams are shattered.

Standing in clear opposition to the girl, whose desire it is to get access to heaven, that lawyer can truly be considered an advocate of hell. We get introduced to him when, right at the beginning, he is trapped in a car wash whose mechanism cannot be brought to a halt. It is here that he gets the first cellular phone call by his daughter Zoe who is equality trapped, as her drug addiction and her later-revealed AIDS infection has led her to a dead end of her life from which no deliverance route seems to be attainable.

Certainly her father can do nothing to help her. When Zoe, whose name ironically means "Life", tries to contact him, we can see that her phone booth is located in a rundown area of a larger city - an image that can be seen as a metaphor for the desolation of her inner state of mind. She addresses herself to her father out of utter helplessness, and it is deplorable to see that he is unable to respond. The only thing he can do for her is to "accept the charges" for the call - another indication of a mind set only on materialistic issues but not prepared to offer the much needed spiritual help.

Zoe nevertheless does make an attempt. She reminds her daddy of a childhood memory when they both were inside a car wash and she "started playing with the automatic window" - a story that, if we accept the car wash as an image for hell, reveals her strong desire of escape and thus approximates her character to the children willingly seduced by the Pied Piper.

However, Mitchell Stephens is incapable of establishing a meaningful communication with his daughter - he thinks that she is merely "calling for money". It is only much later that he comes to a heart-breaking insight. When accidentally meeting a former childhood friend of Zoe on an airplane, he recalls another memory from the past, this time when his then three-year-old daughter nearly died from a spider bite. Although he does not clearly reveal it, the spectator senses that Zoe has now finally succumbed to her drug addiction - and therefore become just another victim of the Pied Piper's power of attraction.

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