The Sweet Hereafter is a novel (1991) written by U.S. author Russell Banks; and an award-winning film (1997) by Canadian director Atom Egoyan, who also wrote the screenplay.
- Ian Holm Mitchell Stephens (lawyer)
- Sarah Polley ... Nichole Burnell (victim)
- Tom McCamus .Sam Burnell (father)
- Bruce Greenwood .. Billy Ansel (parent)
- Gabrielle Rose ........ Dolores Driscoll (bus driver)
- Arsinιe Khanjian .... Wanda Otto (parent)
- Mychael Danna .... Live band harmonium player (uncredited)
Warning: Wikipedia contains spoilers
As most of the children are dead, it depends on the few surviving witnesses to say the right thing now in court. In particular, it is 15 year-old Nichole Burnell, now paralysed from the waist down, whose deposition is all-important. However, she unexpectedly accuses Dolores Driscoll, the driver, of speeding and thus causing the accident. When she does so, all hopes of ever receiving money are thwarted. All the people involved know that Nichole is lying but cannot do anything about it. Only her father knows why, but he feels unable to reveal his daughter's motives.
Both the novel and the film succeed in capturing the atmosphere in a small town suddenly shaken by catastrophe. Whole families move away, fathers take to drinking, secret affairs are abruptly ended. Only the reader/viewer knows though that Mitchell Stephens, the lawyer, is himself a troubled man whose estranged, drug-addicted daughter informs him over the phone that she has just tested HIV positive. However, if one looks closely enough, there is always a glimmer of hope for the future somewhere around the corner.