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The Sweet Hereafter
(New Line Platinum Series)

review by Wes D.

 

 

Rated R

Running Time: 112 Minutes

Starring Ian Holm

Studio: New Line Cinema

Directed by Atom Egoyan

 

Retail Price: $39.99

Features: Theatrical Trailers, Commentary with Atom Egoyan and Book Writer Russell Banks, Atom Egoyan Interview on Charlie Rose, "Before and After The Sweet Hereafter", "The Pied Piper of Hamelin", Isolated Score in 5.1

Specs: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, Dolby Digital English 5.1, Dolby Digital French 5.1, English Captions, Spanish Captions, French Captions, Chapter Search

The Sweet Hereafter is a movie by Atom Egoyan that shows the transformation of small rural town and it's inhabitants following a horrific tragedy that kill many of the town's children. The start of the film shows a lawyer coming from the big city to help the town come together and sue whoever is responsible for this accident. There are survivors and family that must cope with the tragedy as well as decide whether or not they wish to expose themselves to the pain of a lengthy trial in an attempt to get money. Townspeople differ in opinion as to what should be done and that causes strife among neighbors and friends. These characters are tightly woven into a community where everyone has a relationship with everyone else, but sometimes for much different reasons than appear on the surface.

Egoyan chooses not to tell the story in a linear fashion however, for that would be far too easy. Instead he sets the story up as a mobius strip with no beginning, end, or middle and whatever you happen to be watching is exactly what he wants you to see. He leaves it to the viewer to deal with the fact they may be watching something from the past or something from the present. This isn't confusing though, because the stark contrast between the characters before the accident and after is so great that you never once question the timeframe you are looking at. This movie is study of humanity and how pain forces us to see things in different ways and perhaps form alliances with people we'd rather not know. Each of the smaller stories told within the larger frame serve to reflect the reasons the characters actthe way they do. The acting, directing, and cinematography are all top notch.

For the most part the video is excellent but I did notice some shimmering on a pan over woodgrain during the opening credits and some artifacting in the sky towards the end. This did not detract from the film greatly however and could be attributed partially to my own setup.

Well this movie doesn't have a lot of "show-off" in terms of sound, but it features an amazing score that is both beautiful and haunting at the same time. The balance between the dialogue and the score is nearly perfect.

This disc has an amazing amount of extras. Part of this is due to the fact that it was published under the New Line Platinum Series banner. Included on the disc are:

* An isolated music score mixed in 5.1
* Commentary by the director and the writer of the original book
* Theatrical Trailers (both Canadian and American)
* Video discussion "Before and After the Sweet Hereafter" with the director and writer
* Interview with Atom Egoyan from "The Charlie Rose Show"
* The Pied Piper of Hamelin (screens of the entire book w/illustrations)

In regards to the extras on The Sweet Hereafter, All I can really say is that I found both "The Charlie Rose Show" interview and the discussion bit very interesting. The isolated score track would be neat to listen to as I really like the score to the movie, but I haven't taken the time to do this yet. And amazingly, one of the neatest features is just reading The Pied Piper on the screen with the illustrations. The book actually bookends the entire movie as it is similar in theme and is used directly in the story as a girl reads relevant passages of the book as a narrative over certain parts of the movie. Seeing how it all ties together by reading it on the screen ent some clarity to the director's vision. This is because, if I recall correctly, the Pied Piper aspect wasn't included in the original book and was something that the director did with the author's permission.

 

What can I say about this movie that I haven't said already. I will tell you that I was completely uninterested in seeing it, but gave into pressure from my wife. I am certainly happy that I did, and everyone that I've shared this film with has been equally amazed by it's beauty and depth.

(5/5, NOT included in final score)

(4/5)

(4/5)

(5/5)

(5/5, NOT an average)

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