The Sweet Hereafter is a film that blankets the viewer in the cold and stark atmospheric winter. Right from the outset, it lets us know that a terrible tragedy (a school bus accident) has happened. It does so in fractured narrative that enhances the story rather than hinder it.
A small town is torn apart by the tragedy. Some bonds are mended while others are broken. Two major storylines develop in a subtle and harrowing manner. The first involves a lawyer who has come to the town to discuss a settlement regarding the bus accident. The second involves a girl who was apart of the crash that ended up surviving.
Director Atom Egoyan does an excellent job of showing honest human beings and their interactions under dire circumstances. Egoyan is known, along with David Cronenberg, as one of the veteran directors to come out of Canada. This film is a perfect starting point to the rest of his career.
Rich in character development, beautifully photographed and bolstering a haunting score, this one will stay with you long after the final scenes play out.