|The more you think about it, the richer it gets.|
|Joe Morgenstern, film critic Source|
Photo © Johnnie Eisen
Ian Holm in The Sweet Hereafter
Based on the novel by Russell Banks, which was given to Atom as a gift by his wife, Arsinée Khanjian, this project marked the first time Egoyan ever wrote a screenplay based on another work. For the movie, the setting of the novel was changed from upstate New York to British Columbia. The lead role of the lawyer was originally to be played by Donald Sutherland. He dropped out shortly before shooting was to begin, and was replaced by British actor Ian Holm. The Sweet Hereafter had its premiere at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury, International Critics, and Ecumenical Jury prizes. It was later chosen to be the opening film for the 1997 Toronto Film Festival. Recipient of fifteen Canadian "Genie" Award nominations, The Sweet Hereafter won eight awards, including Best Picture and Best Direction. In February of 1998, Egoyan received Academy Award nominations for his direction and the screenplay, unprecedented recognition for a Canadian director of a Canadian movie. Despite widespread critical praise for the film, The Sweet Hereafter was only a modest success at the box office, presumably due to its grim subject matter.
A tragic school bus accident takes the lives of many children in a small town. In the midst of their grief, a determined attorney attempts to gather a group of parents to mount a negligence suit. While interviewing the involved parties, the lawyer employs his wiles on the townfolk with varyng degrees of success. The lawyer's own personal tragedy, his estrangement from his own drug addicted daughter, serves both as an interruption and a catalyst in his pursuit of the case. A daughter from the town, left paralyzed from injuries sustained in the crash of the bus, becomes the focal point of the legal case. This fourteen year-old girl holds the key to providing some form of redemption for herself and her community.
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