Classic Movie 2019

Classic Movie Of The Week: Sweet Hereafter (1997)

Starring: Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, Caerthan Banks

Director: Atom Egoyan

A bus crash in a small town takes the lives of many of the community’s school children, while the driver and one girl survive. A lawyer (Holm) descends on the town to try and make money off a class action suit but finds things are more complex than they seem.

The film focuses on grief and loss in it’s different incarnations. Watching people struggle with the death of a child is painful, but the film isn’t depressing. Or not entirely so.

The film is lyrical in it’s movement through time, showing us some things in flashback. Stevens the lawyer, while he wants to make money off the people’s grief, also has to contend with his own loss: his daughter is a drug addict who is unrecognizable as the little girl he raised and who only calls when she needs money. It’s the loss of a child but of a very different kind than the loss of the other characters. Their loss, he feels, can only be assuaged through a scapegoat, through revenge via law suit and money. But ultimately, he’s proved wrong by the honesty of a girl who survived the crash, as the testimony only she can give.

I didn’t really enjoy this film. I suppose that no one really enjoys a film about such a tragic and sad subject, but on the whole I found it all a bit long and slow. It is a nice looking film and one that focuses on grief without going into mawkishness and melodrama, but it just didn’t grab me and make me feel deeply.

See It If: I think this is one for lovers of drama genre films and films that explore tragedy and life. I didn’t love it, but it’s not a bad film, just personal taste.

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2 thoughts on “Classic Movie Of The Week: Sweet Hereafter (1997)”

  1. I haven’t read the book, but like you I didn’t enjoy the movie. Reflecting on it now, I could believe that it was an exercise in showing a side of humanity we don’t like to acknowledge.
    Loss and grief are said to ennoble us and strengthen character. But sometimes they bring out the less pleasant aspects of ourselves.

    Liked by 1 person

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