The Sweet Hereafter
Directed by Atom Egoyan
I am currently staying at my sister's apartment. Right now she is out picking up her new cat and is going to bring Mexican food back. When she returns my heart might explode with happiness. Fortunately, this movie can act as a mood stabilizer, as this was one of the most depressing films I have ever watched.
In a small town in Canada, a school bus skids off into a lake, killing fourteen children. All of the grieving parents are approached by a lawyer (played by Ian Holm) who urges them to sue, as he doesn't believe there is such a thing as accidents. Bilbo Baggins has problems of his own, as his drug addicted daughter recently tested positive for HIV. Oh, there is also a sexual assault story line, which is the final square on our sadness bingo card.
The filmmakers probably could have cut one tragedy. It was starting to get ridiculous; I felt like I was watching a Lifetime movie. I even left out a few in my summary. A girl is also paralyzed and the bus driver's husband is mentally disabled. I mean, Jesus. As a storyteller, I believe if you torture your characters like this there should be some sort of payoff or lesson for the viewer. What was the point of any of this? That life is cold and miserable and...that's it? None of the characters were particularly inspirational. I suppose the most heroic character was Nicole, but I didn't understand her actions at all.
In a film like this there are, of course, moments of beauty. Still, I wasn't too impressed. The filmmakers' only goal seemed to be to see how fast they could make the audience cry. I made it through without tearing up once so I might just be a monster.
Donald Sutherland was originally cast as Mitchell Stephens but backed out at the last minute.
Russell Banks has said this was an improvement on his novel.