A small community is torn apart by a tragic accident which kills most of the town’s children. A lawyer visits the victims’ parents in order to profit from the tragedy by stirring up the their anger and launching a class action suit against anyone they can blame.
Egoyan's film is a rare beast indeed; a literary adaptation which the author of the original book himself acknowledged was better than his source material. What we have here is a quite exceptional study of the grief felt by a small town in the aftermath of an accident in which several children are killed or maimed. The film is saturated in a wintry melancholic light and is a quite remarkable and poignant work of art.
Imagine if the tragedies of Fargo were played with a straight face, it might give you an idea of The Sweet Hereafter, a film that has no qualms showing you people in terrible situations who may or may not be terrible people themselves...or maybe that distinction is irrelevant. Sarah Polley is something else in this.
I found the style by which the narrative unfolds to be interesting, and there are some very tasteful shots of the British-Columbian mountains, but the movie is just way too goofy without meaning to be. It often feels like a Hallmark movie of the week, with characters who come off so cheesy that the film could be presented as a homage to Twin Peaks. Can't say I understand the acclaim this film has received.
Because we've all lost our children. They're dead to us. They're killing each other in the streets. They wander, comatose...shopping malls. Something terrible has happened. It's taken our children away. It's too late. They're gone.