The Sweet Hereafter

Newcity Chicago

DIRECTED BY: Atom Egoyan

REVIEWED: 12-29-97

Directed and written by Atom Egoyan. Egoyan has long had a fascination with ways of seeing yet not comprehending. While immaculately crafted, Egoyan's earlier films, such as "Speaking Parts" and "Family Viewing," were steeped in a chilly regard for how layers of media--the commonplace of home videos and answering machine messages--increase rather than narrow the gulf of interpersonal communication. His stories would escalate into the baroque, as characters became obsessed with bit-players in B-movies or were shown living lives of domestic banality, photographed by the filmmaker in the manner of television soap operas. By the time of the international success of "Exotica," the gamesmanship existed mostly in the artful layering of plot strands woven into an intricate if artificial whole cloth. "Exotica" suggested that the public would ponder the filmmaker's complex constructs, if given enough palpable humanity. And as the 37-year-old Egoyan's work moved coming closer to emotional accessibility, it seemed that he could take his movies out of arthouses and into the hearts and malls of the world. This may be the movie that Egoyan's admirers have been waiting for. Based on Russell Banks' novel of the same name, "The Sweet Hereafter" deals with the effects of a tragic school bus crash on a ravishingly beautiful small town set amid the scenic mountains of British Columbia. Outsider Ian Holm arrives, much like the Pied Piper, a lawyer trying to lure the citizens of the town into a class-action suit that would allow the mourning parents to try to sate their immense loss with the small solace of cash. Where Egoyan has dealt with emotional traumas of different sorts of outsiders and marginal characters in the past, with this adaptation, he has made a stirring portrait of the effects of loss within a community. An interview with Egoyan appears in next week's issue.

--Ray Pride

Full Length Reviews
The Sweet Hereafter
The Sweet Hereafter
The Sweet Hereafter
The Sweet Hereafter
The Sweet Hereafter
The Sweet Hereafter

Capsule Reviews
The Sweet Hereafter
The Sweet Hereafter

Other Films by Atom Egoyan
Exotica
Felicia's Journey

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