Egoyan's most accomplished artistic achievement; the subtleties here are mesmerizing. A film this patiently paced and underplayed has no business being so gripping. Ian Holm, Sarah Polley and particularly Bruce Greenwood round out a powerful cast full of career-best performances.
One of the most elegant, beautiful, and devastatingly tragic Canadian films of all time. Atom Egoyan (quite frankly, a very overrated filmmaker) has crafted his finest work, a story following a tragedy in a small community in British Columbia. What makes this so haunting is how simple and authentic everything is - the performances enabling such realism. A meditation on family, community, grief, and virtue.
Saw this recently. Sarah Polley is a standout. Love her rendition of The Tragically Hip's "Courage". Was the film pretentious? Does it have its "head up its ass"? I dunno. Some of the reviews/comments I read on this site are pretty snooty and condescending (& pretentious), I can't say I enjoyed it; the story was too upsetting to "enjoy", but it was well-done and it has stayed with me.
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.
A succinctly and perceptively structured meditation on mortality and tragedy that repeatedly hits the right emotional notes. Thematically, the various parallels and mirrors drawn by Egoyan are starkly sucessful and the themes explored are meticulously covered and intriguing. The atmosphere of mourning that pervades the narrative renders the film thoroughly immersive when laid along the serene pacing. Hence brilliant.