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The Sweet Hereafter(1997)
A small community is torn apart by a tragic accident which kills most of the town's children. A lawyer visits the victims' parents in order to profit from the tragedy by stirring up the their anger and launching a class action suit against anyone they can blame. The community is paralyzed by its anger and cannot let go. All but one young girl, left in a wheelchair after the accident, who finds the courage to lead the way toward healing.
For more about The Sweet Hereafter and the The Sweet Hereafter Blu-ray release, see the The Sweet Hereafter Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on September 10, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Ian Holm, Caerthan Banks, Sarah Polley, Bruce Greenwood, Gabrielle Rose, Alberta Watson
Director: Atom Egoyan
» See full cast & crew
The Sweet Hereafter Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, September 10, 2013
Winner of the the Grand Prize of the Jury and the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the Cannes Film Festival, Canadian director Atom Egoyan's "The Sweet Hereafter" (1997) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The only bonus on the disc is a Atom Egoyan's short film "Open House" (1982). In English, without optional English subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
An aging lawyer (Ian Holm, Chariots of Fire, Brazil) arrives in a small mountain town to unite the local residents in a lawsuit following a terrible accident. The lawyer hopes to secure a major settlement that will also allow him to retire.
At first the residents are unwilling to discuss the accident, but the experienced lawyer manages to convince them that they deserve to be compensated for their losses. Without knowing much about the complicated relationships between the different families he has approached, the lawyer then begins instructing his clients how to properly describe their feelings when the time comes for them to appear in court.
But the more time the lawyer spends with his clients, the more he begins to realize that some of them cannot be trusted because they don't want to re-experience, and therefore remember, the horror that has transformed their community.
Meanwhile, the lawyer's personal life also begins to unravel. His junkie daughter (Caerthan Banks) frequently calls him on the phone and asks him to prove that he cares about her. He can do it if he begins sending her money, which she will use to support her addiction. When he refuses, she tries to punish him with a devastating confession.
The film is structured as a large mosaic of flashbacks which carefully link various important events from the lives of the main protagonists. The disaster is revealed early into the film but it is not the focus of attention; the film is primarily concerned with its devastating impact on the main protagonists and their small community in the present.
As it is the case with virtually all films Atom Egoyan has directed, The Sweet Hereafter has a very unique atmosphere. Dark melancholy is an integral part of it, but its presence isn't used to test the patience of the audience. On the contrary, it is thoughtfully managed and often even countered with very small doses of equally dark humor.
The frank observations about responsibility and guilt are the film's biggest strength. They seriously compromise the process and system that must guarantee and deliver some sort of a meaningful closure when tragedies occur.
Holm is excellent as the experienced lawyer who must earn the trust of the heartbroken parents. A very young Sarah Polley also impresses as the only survivor that is questioned by the lawyer. Bruce Greenwood plays to perfection the grieving father who does not like big city lawyers. Also, rather predictably, Egoyan's wife, Arsinee Khanjian, is again given a small but important role.
The Sweet Hereafter was lensed by cinematographer Paul Sarossy, who has worked with Egoyan on many of his most critically acclaimed films, including Exotica, Felicia's Journey, Where the Truth Lies, Ararat, and The Adjuster.
The film's soundtrack was also created by Egoyan's regular collaborator Mychael Danna (Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding, Ang Lee's Life of Pi, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' Little Miss Sunshine).
The Sweet Hereafter Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
This new Blu-ray release of The Sweet Hereafter represents a dramatic upgrade in quality over the R1 DVD release of the film New Line Cinema produced in 1998. Image depth and clarity are simply terrific. The very important close-ups during the discussions look particularly good (see screencapture #3 for one such example). The panoramic shots always look crisp and boast terrific fluidity. Colors are wonderfully well saturated and very healthy. There are absolutely no traces of excessive degraining corrections. Sharpening adjustments have not been performed either. Unsurprisingly, from start to finish the film has a very solid and very convincing organic look. Finally, there are no serious compression issues. Also, there are no damage marks, cuts, stains, debris, or scratches. All in all, this is a wonderful presentation of The Sweet Hereafter that is guaranteed to please the many fans of the film. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
The Sweet Hereafter Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Artificial Eye have not provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature.
Mychael Danna's soundtrack has a very important role in the film. Fortunately, the terrific lossless 5.1 track allows it to shine in all the right places. The beautiful piano solos sound simply terrific (especially the ones in the final third of the film). There is also some good surround movement, though you should not expect to be impressed. The dialog is very crisp, always stable, and easy to follow. For the record, there are no pops, audio dropouts, or distortions to report in this review.
The Sweet Hereafter Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Sweet Hereafter Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Fans of Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter who have previously seen the film only on DVD should not hesitate to purchase this new Region-B Blu-ray release from British distributors Artificial Eye. The film looks wonderful in high-definition, unquestionably the best it ever has. Also included on the Blu-ray is a short film which the Canadian filmmaker directed in the early 80s. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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The Sweet Hereafter Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter Detailed - August 16, 2013
British distributors Artificial Eye have officially announced and detailed their upcoming Blu-ray release of director Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter (1997), starring Ian Holm, Caerthan Banks, and Sarah Polley. The release will be available for purchase on September ...
• Artificial Eye: Claude Miller's Final Film, More Satyajit Ray and... - May 10, 2013
British distributors Artificial Eye have informed us that they are planning to add four Blu-ray titles to their catalog: French director Claude Miller's final film, Therese Desqueyroux (2012), legendary Indian director Satyajit Ray's Mahanagar (1963) and Nayak ...
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