Saturday, November 12, 2005

The Sweet Hereafter


Dir: Atom Egoyan (Exotica; Felicia's Journey)


I have noticed myself drawing connections back to this movie lately, so through the power of Netlfix (BCE) I queued it up. I watched it several times when it was new, but had not revisited it for several years. Upon further review, it is quite simply one of the most heartwrenching and beautiful works of creativity I have ever encountered.

Ian Holm gives the performance of his lifetime as a lawyer traveling to a small town where a school bus accident has torn the community apart. Holm's lawyer brings his own family tradgedy with him, and all of the characters must work through their own grief and mourning and reckon with their mistakes against a snowy and tragic backdrop.

The premise is simple, but the complexity of the insights delivered by the movie are astounding. Ruminations about the law, family, death and fate are not delivered through overwrought speeches, but queitly between sobs and through revealing looks, implied through character development rather than forced through dialogue. Everything seems so real that we cannot help but experience the grief with the families. Nothing in this film seems artificial or distant, or even dramatic. The only thing that reminded me I was watching a film at all is the exquisite camera work.

The chronology of the movie is disjointed, but not in a gimicky way. By allowing us to understand the grief of the parents before the accident happens, it make that momentous scene all the more shocking. It is one of most indelible images I have ever seen in a movie. Not gratiuitous, but powerful.

There are some major plot points that I will not reveal, but suffice it to say that the story is just a way to explore the characters and to reveal the complexity of human interactions, even in a seemingly unified community. The film is ambitious, powerful, gorgeous, important, and especially moving, the most imporant thing a film can be,

I cannot more strongly urge everyone to experience The Sweet Hereafter.