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the Sweet Hereafter movie review

the Sweet Hereafter

Ah, the joy of fairy tales. So simple yet cruel in their teaching. Like the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. The Pied Piper leads all the children of the town away, bar one little boy who grew lonely without his friends, because he was lame, and couldn't keep up.

Based on the novel by Russel Banks and adapted by Atom Egoyan,  'The Sweet Hereafter' is a disquietening story about an absence growing within the bonds between parent and child. Set within the small rural community of Sam Dent, British Columbia, the landscape is filled with panoramic shots of a snowy mountain beauty which heightens the sense of vacancy and isolation, as the town mourns after losing fourteen of it's children when the local school-bus slides off the road and into a frozen lake.

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Movie Poster, The Sweet Hereafter

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A second pied piper comes to the town shortly after this event. The stranger is a lawyer, Mitchell (played by Ian Holm), whose aim is to gather the townsfolk in forming a lawsuit against the company which manufactured the bus, "Accidents don't happen", being his synching message. In a place full of haunted memories from grief and loss, Mitchell has problems of his own to solve, putting an edge behind his proficient techniques as a successful lawyer. His grievances centre around his own daughter who he's 'lost' to drug addiction. Fact is, the children cannot be brought back no matter what the monetary compensation. And the one who couldn't follow and was left behind is a young girl who survived the accident but is unable to walk for the rest of her life. Played brilliantly by Sarah Polley, Nicole's startling clarity about the situation makes her the keystone in this curious tale.

It was she who read the story of the Pied Piper to two of the lost children on the night before they died and it is she who comes to the reality of letting go in order to live in the land of 'The Sweet Hereafter', a living truth which she teaches to the rest of the town.

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Just the facts:

Title: the Sweet Hereafter (1998)
Written by: Novel by Russel Banks, screenplay by Atom Egoyan
Directed by: Atom Egoyan
Produced by: Atom Egoyan and Camelia Frieberg
Edited by:
Director of Photography:
running time:

The Players: Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, Bruce Greenwood, Tom McCamus, Gabrielle Rose, Arsinee Khanjian, Alberta Watson, Maury Chaykin
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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Filed: 25-Jul-1998 : Last updated: : Last tested: 3-Jul-2014: Last Compiled: 3-Jul-2014
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