films seen
average score
Alive and kicking


The Sweet Hereafter

1997 / 112m - Canada
The Sweet Hereafter poster

I was pretty surprised to discover this film won a prestigious prize at the Cannes festival. It's the first feature-length Egoyan I watched and while not terrible, I felt it was little more than an elevated TV drama that dragged on just a little too long. Not really the kind of film you'd expect to win any big prizes.

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One fateful morning, a school bus drives off the road and ends up in an icy lake below. Fourteen kids die, leaving the small community where it happened stunned. Stephens is a renowned lawyer who takes on the case, but when he talks to the families involved he finds it difficult to get a grasp what exactly went down that morning.

Performances are basic, the cinematography is rather dull (especially considering the amazing setting) and the music is a bit cheesy. The drama is also a little overstated and sentimental. There's enough intrigue there and Egoyan kept me interested until the end, but there's really nothing that stood out as particularly remarkable.

I'm a big fan of anthologies, and this project sounded very promising on paper. Seventy renowned directors give their vision on the future of cinema. With just one minute per short, there isn't much time to make a point, but it's disheartening to see how few of them even managed to stick to the topic.

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The saddest part was that many of the short didn't even deal with the future, but openly referred to or praised the medium's past. There's also a lot of doom and gloom, with some very basic visions of people not caring enough about arthouse cinema, or playing movies on their phones. Your typical old-man-yelling-at-cloud stuff.

There is only a small selection of directors who seem to have understood the brief, and they struggle to make the most of their limited runtime. What remains is a complete mess, with most shorts looking like they were made on people's afternoon off, and hardly anything that stands out. A disappointment.