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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A MULTI-FACETED GEM OF A AFILM...
This film is compelling in its storytelling, peeling back layer after layer of human emotion, until all that is left is that which is primal. Beautifully nuanced, if somewhat ponderously slow at times, this film is not for the action oriented viewer. It is a film for the more patient and discerning viewer, the one who will allow the story to unfold in its own good time...
Published on 15 Dec. 2002 by Lawyeraau

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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Let the buyer beware!
The Momentum Pictures DVD has a sub-standard picture and looks suspiciously like a lazy NTSC to PAL transfer.
Published on 13 Aug. 2005


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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A MULTI-FACETED GEM OF A AFILM..., 15 Dec. 2002
By 
Lawyeraau (Balmoral Castle) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This film is compelling in its storytelling, peeling back layer after layer of human emotion, until all that is left is that which is primal. Beautifully nuanced, if somewhat ponderously slow at times, this film is not for the action oriented viewer. It is a film for the more patient and discerning viewer, the one who will allow the story to unfold in its own good time. It is this viewer who will derive the most enjoyment from this cinematic gem.
The story is really several stories that are threaded into one tapestry of events. The main thread involves a school bus accident that resulted in the death of fourteen children in a small British Columbia town in Canada. A big, city slicker lawyer, Mitchell Stevens (Ian Holm), waltzes into town on the heels of the tragedy to see if a class action suit, arising out of the bus accident, lies against someone, anyone for huge monetary damages.
As Stevens interviews those prospective clients, his own troubles are revealed to the viewer and center around his drug addicted daughter, who deftly manipulates him. Scenes with his daughter, which suggest just how out of control his daughter's life is, correlate nicely to the way the lives of the townspeople have spun out of control since the bus accident that took so many young lives. Stevens is as bereft as the townspeople who have lost their children. The lawyer's feeling of guilt over his daughter's seemingly hopeless condition, miirror the hopelessness felt by the townspeople in light of the overwhelming tragedy that has befallen them.
The town has its secrets, however. One of them involves an attractive, and talented teenager, Nichole (Sarah Polley). When the viewer first sees her, with her is a long haired, seemingly supportive and tender man. For some inexplicable reason the viewer may take him for her boyfriend, even though all they are doing is eating ice cream, only to discover that he is actually her father. As does the lawyer, Nichole must contend with a very personal and secret tragedy in her young life.
The brief scene that makes clear the true nature of Nichole's relationship with her father is shown in a way that belies its inherent corruption. It seamlessly transitions its way into the film, and the viewer really has to think twice about that which the viewer has just seen, as the setting seems almost romantic, a setting that belies the profound putrescence of the reality of the scene.
The threads of the film's story are woven in such a way that time and scene shifts are somewhat abrupt and may seem a little disjointed to the viewer, which has the net effect of keeping the viewer a little off balance. The tenor of the film, however, is set to perfection by Nichole's monotone voice over reading of Robert Browning's lyrical poem, "The Pied Piper of Hamlin". Her reading gives the viewer a feeling of alienation and despair. It also leaves the viewer wondering whether the pied piper is an allusion to her father or the lawyer. Watch the film, and you be the judge.
Ian Holm, Sarah Polley, and this cast of mostly unknowns, give wonderful performances worthy of note, compelling and moving. The film, as does an onion, has many layers to be peeled back. It is a film to be savored and viewed again and again. "The Sweet Hereafter" is sweet, indeed.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Community versus the professionalisation of relationships, 23 Nov. 2003
By 
MR RICHARD C INGS (Alperton, Middlesex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Immediately reminiscent of the Coens' "Fargo" from the opening scene, with the strange medieval music and the brilliant white of the snowscape, this is no black comic thriller, but a sensitive exploration, brilliantly performed, directed and filmed, of the very real consequences of bringing third parties into intimate human tragedies. For as long as we feel the need to have mediators to manage our feelings and "direct our anger", this film will make us think about what this means for our relationships with our fellow human beings.
The DVD is bare on extras, as sadly, I think the Momentum Pictures releases often are - outrageous in some ways considering the premium price, but then you pay for the film, not the "extras". It contains a badly made documentary interview with Egoyan which appears to have had no money thrown at it, full of pointless camera tricks, bad sound and no editorial thought. Thankfully it does get some interesting reflections out of the director, although one constantly feels that the producer of the doc has cut him short, and the interviewer forgot to ask specific questions about specific scenes in the film you've just seen.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Sweet hereafter, 22 Sept. 2009
By 
Charles Lyall (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
An excellent piece of work. Atom Egoyan delivers a powerful visual and psychological journey into a silent snowbound terrain and creates a memorable classic reminiscent of Bergman in its scope. Ian Holm is superb in the lead role.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweeping Emotional Landscapes, 26 Jun. 2001
By A Customer
This is a powerful understated movie, with a moving performance by Ian Holm as the lawyer who tries to draw out the feelings of the small community that suffers a collective tragedy. It's beautiful photography and moments of pure emotional clarity, especially when Mitchell talks about his daughter when she was younger, make it stand out from the standard fare out there. A powerful, moving experience which lingers long after viewing and leaves open questions about justice and the true reality behind families and communities.
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4.0 out of 5 stars And A Sweet Soundtrack too!, 28 Feb. 2014
By 
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Whilst the story is quietly compelling and absorbing, its worth watching this movie simply for Mychael Danna's haunting soundtrack. Also as an added bonus, you get to hear Sarah Polley sing too! Her version of Courage has received some rave reviews all over the net, and its a shame that (other than contributing to the soundtrack album) Sarah has never produced a full album of her own.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Let the buyer beware!, 13 Aug. 2005
By A Customer
The Momentum Pictures DVD has a sub-standard picture and looks suspiciously like a lazy NTSC to PAL transfer.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting Stuff!, 8 Nov. 2010
This is an excellent film in many ways - it's atmospheric and beautifully paced. Most of all, however, just sit back and enjoy Ian Holm's acting masterclass. Before other people dare to call themselves actors, they should take a good look at this first - and be humbled by what they see!
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Movie: 6 STARS!! DVD quality: 1 STAR!, 4 Jan. 2012
I feel obliged to include a "review" to supply yet another 1-of-5-stars ratings, for the single reason that the possible buyer will not be misleaded by the high ratings, which are of course grounded on the content of the actual movie, and not the visual quality of the picture, that bear a strong resemblence of a quick and dirty VHS to DVD copy, as suggested by the reviewer "A Customer". It's horribly unsharp for once, and that is perhaps the worst thing that can happen quality-wise when watching a drama, where subtle, facial expressions are so important, and this is of course one of Sir Holm's most honed skills. What a shame. And there is "of course" black borders BOTH on the left and right AND on the top and bottom of the screen *sigh*, making it even more difficult to enjoy the actors performance.

A few words about the actual content then, and I will not dally with the story -- you can read about that elsewhere if it matters to you. The reason I bought this, was first of all due to the presence of Sir Ian Holm, which is an profound and astonishing actor, an absolute marvel, if I may indeed say so. The story is also of course interesting, and we are lucky to see the supportive cast as very talented as well, which makes this a memorable and sobering watch.

- Thank you for reading!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 1 Aug. 2014
By 
Mrs Eileen Machon (Leeds, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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excellent
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric, 30 Nov. 2000
Wide panoramic sweeps and an intense claustrophobic storyline make for an intriguing juxtaposition. Some might find the storyline slow moving but I think it gets the story of the book across admirably. Ian Holms does a good job of playing the ambulance chasing lawyer.
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The Sweet Hereafter [Blu-ray]
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