Beauty and the Beast (2017)

The final part of the Toronto ComiCon weekend meet-up with Drew is our Friday’s night movie going adventure to see the live action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. Drew and I both have Disney segments on our respective blogs and it really highlights how much we love it in general. Plus, we just finished our 90’s Blogathon so hey, it all fits perfectly together. As objective as we would like to be, it is hard to not compare it to the original animation. I am just going to be honest here before we start.

Lets check it out!

Beauty and the Beast (2017)

beauty and the beast

Director: Bill Condon

(Voice) Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Kevin Kline, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Ian McKellan, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, Emma Thompson

The beauty of animation is how magical they can be because they are imaginative and creative. To bring something like that to life creates a lot of challenge. There has be matching music and atmosphere and most importantly, the magical chemistry that we can feel with these characters which is usually easier to believe when its animation than in real life. I would be lying if I didn’t go into Beauty and the Beast optimistically skeptical. Why? I haven’t watched anything from Emma Watson since Harry Potter series ended and I only know Dan Stevens as the creepy dude in The Guest and an extremely small part of Season one of Downton Abbey. Not a lot to compare to and I didn’t really look too much at the voice actors either. The question now, after a few days of the initial excitement and thinking about it: does it live up to its original? The answer is no. I have to reluctantly say that because of a few aspects. However, I also never expected it to live up to the original so I still had a lot of fun with it.

Beauty and the Beast 2017

Beauty and the Beast’s best part is creating its atmosphere and the world. It is absolutely gorgeous. The effects and CGI put us right into the setting of the town and especially the castle and forest areas. There was a darker tone however, it does manage to capture a great part of the magic that made the first one great. Of course, the original animated film offered up some of the most beautiful animation with its rich colors and catchy musical tunes. That comes to the second part that gives this movie something more. While retaining a lot of the music from the original, they manage to put a few new songs in. The nostalgia and magic of the old music still is the fun parts of the movie plus it shows a true determination of creating a animated film with this one that stays true to a musical with actually not a lot of dialogue.

Beauty and the Beast

Belle is one of my favorite heroines/Disney princesses. To be honest, Emma Watson did a decent performance. I can’t say that she was particularly memorable though. She fit in well because she had a good enough singing voice and the movie’s overall magical appeal swept me away. That isn’t to say that I didn’t like her. I just can’t really pinpoint a part of hers that stuck out to her. On that note, her chemistry with the Beast worked well enough that the story made it easy to fall in love with the story again even knowing what would happen and in that final scene where there’s that twist, I had tears in my eyes, which was definitely unexpected. Turning over to Dan Stevens as the Beast, his face was pretty much CGI and yet perhaps it is because of that, it was easier to keep it imaginative. When he was angry at the beginning, there were moments of fear and later as he softened, his features also made it so much more gentle. There was so much more to love in how Dan Stevens portrayed the Beast than Belle which seems to be the opposite of how I remembered the Disney animation.

Beauty and the Beast

The stars and the most dynamic characters of the original was almost always these supporting animated enchanted characters. Who knew that clocks and candelabras and teapots could make us fall in love with them, right? That is something that really stands out also in this live action. The voice cast is a fantastic ensemble with Cogsworth being voices Ian McKellan, Lumiere by Ewan McGregor, Mrs. Potts by Emma Thompson and of course, the man who tends to sneak into every movie in some supporting part and almost makes it shine, the grand piano (Maestro) by Stanley Tucci. I loved them the most in this live action adaptation (or is it a remake?). There are so many similarities to the original but somehow their enchantedness makes it easier to imagine them in this way.
Beauty and the Beast

Finally, we can’t not talk about the most self-absorbed villain, Gaston. I honestly like Gaston quite a bit and his sequences especially the Gaston songs and bits are quite humorous in the animation and I’m pretty happy about how they approached this character and Luke Evans take on it. There were a lot of funny moments and it helps a lot. The ending battle with the Beast was a little underwhelming but it was never meant to be overly long even in the original. Gaston isn’t really a true threat ever. I’m not sure any believes that he’ll amount to anything too much especially not when his right hand man is Lefou who is just there for comedic relief. Josh Gad didn’t quite stand out as much either.

Overall, Beauty and the Beast is a decent live action take of the original. In comparison, it is hard to meet the original’s masterful animation however there is still a lot to love especially because this one takes good care in creating a beautiful environment and magical atmosphere. The winter and snowy landscape with the dark but beautiful castle captures lots of mystic, especially watching the take on the castle falling apart as the magic wears away from each rose petal falling. While some characters are a little underwhelming in their portrayal, the majority did a pretty great job however the magic of the story itself did carry itself and shadowed the shortcomings in the moment.

Have you seen Beauty and the Beast?

Backcountry (2014)

Backcountry (aka Blackfoot Trail) has been a movie on my radar for quite some time. Something about the wilderness being our enemy seems always so intriguing. Think about Frozen, not the Disney animated film but this one here. Maybe not intriguing but the unpredictability is threatening at times because we can’t quite anticipate what to do, except try to prepare the best possible for it. Plus, I love to support Canadian films.

Let’s check this out!

Backcountry (2014)

backcountry

Director (and writer): Adam MacDonald

Cast: Missy Peregrym,  Jeff Roop, Eric Balfour, Nicholas Campbell

An urban couple go camping in the woods and find themselves lost in the territory of a predatory black bear. – IMDB

Backcountry is a story about survival based on a true story. A couple goes out to the woods lead by boyfriend, Alex who wants to take his busy girlfriend, Jenn to Blackfoot Trail to not only get away from the urban life but to a specific spot he remembered was really pretty when he was younger. Except to finally realize that they were not only lost but with a bear following their tracks. So much thrill can come from this concept and don’t get me wrong, it does because the story takes its time to let us know our characters before putting them into danger and while the thrill of outsmarting nature is great, it is hard to ignore the basic common sense. Please do note that I do not know the true story and never read up on any details so this write up is just from a standalone.

Backcountry

For people who are beginner hikers, or beginner anything really, we all know to go in prepared. This is where we already know where the story will go because Alex, upon being offered a map to the trail and against all caution, decides to go without taking the map. This is about as spoiler as I will get, I promise. How do you cheer for someone who doesn’t even know to protect themselves and have all odds on their side? Now, Jenn doesn’t even pay attention on anything else or listen in on what the ranger says so she just walks in trusting it is all good. I’m all about trust but like I said, you can never be prepared. However, the first part (or half) of the film is really about character development and letting us learn about who these two people are. The decisions they make define who they are and probably what will happen to them. Perhaps also take their story as a cautionary tale.

Backcountry

Early in the film, we start realizing that there a presence of a bear in the area. However Alex chooses to ignore it even when a few more things happen. If I was them, I wouldn’t have continued. No matter how beautiful the scenery is mostly because its more disappointing to die than to wait to come back and enjoy it when its safer, something our two characters really are quite naive about. However, here is where I will stop talking about the main characters but about the introduction of danger. The creepy feeling of camping and having something outside and how sometimes we can’t predict or even know they are there actually creates the fear in the audience before our characters do because we know more than they do at that current point in time. Definitely one of the finer aspects of Backcountry is creating the gruelling and threatening atmosphere and giving it time to slowly build up.

Backcountry

There are a few other characters in this film. The ranger plays a cameo role with just one short scene. The other is an Irish hiking expert (forgot the actual term) Brad who poses as a intimidating person. What is the meaning of his character? That is the question we should ask ourselves if not to simply inject a slightly bigger name because it is played by Eric Balfour. This character is deep and hard to grasp and it makes his short appearance so much more powerful when we see how Alex and Jenn reacts and the strength in our mains. I honestly believe that was the purpose because it shouldn’t be to divert our attention since most do know, especially with the posters, what this movie is about, I’m guessing (which I could be wrong). In many ways, his character managed to intrigue and create mystery.

 Overall, Backcountry is a slow-burn wilderness survival cautionary tale based on a true story. The main characters are given time to develop and for us to know them better while letting the dangers slowly approach. While the atmosphere and intrigue and urgency of the situation is done very well, there is a part of me that can rationalize bits that escape common sense however, still wonder if its just my way of wanting the characters’ decision to make sense. There are some quite brutal sequences and the second half is much more engaging than the first which is mostly about building up our characters before breaking them down.

Have you seen Backcountry?

Ella Enchanted (2004)

Ultimate 90’s blogathon is done and wrapped up. It is time to embrace some movie reviews. I have to admit that I actually didn’t watch a lot of movies over the last three weeks. I took the opportunity to catch up on TV series and gaming, which was a really nice change in pace.

I am a fan of Anna Hathaway and especially in those Princess Diaries days and I am also a sucker for princess/Cinderella stories which makes Ella Enchanted all the more fantastic. It has been a while that I’ve wanted to see this one so I was excited to see it land on Netflix! Lets give it a go!

Ella Enchanted (2004)

ella enchanted

Director: Tommy O’Haver

Cast: Anne Hathaway, Hugh Dancy, Cary Elwes, Minnie Driver, Aidan McArdle, Joanna Lumley, Lucy Punch, Jennifer Higham, Eric Idle, Vivica A. Fox

Ella is under a spell to be constantly obedient, a fact she must hide from her new step-family in order to protect the prince of the land, her friend for whom she’s falling. – IMDB

Ella Enchanted is an innocent fun movie, actually much more than my first impressions that I remembered of it back when it released. While it does give a Cinderella-esque story, Ella embodies quite a few princesses we are familiar with. She does have an evil stepmother who brings two stepsisters and they do push her aside but Ella also has a fairy in the household and ends up getting a curse, like Sleeping Beauty except her curse is one of being obedient. While it seems great as a baby for their parents, as she grew up, it started to cause her to do many things she didn’t want to. Ella lived with no choices and under people’s desires because of this curse. However, she is very kind and accepting. It is hard to not cheer for Ella when she sets out on her journey to find Lucinda, the fairy who granted her this “gift” and feel bad for her predicament when she gets caught up in bad situations.

Ella Enchanted

Anne Hathaway does a great job at being Ella. There’s a bit of the whole innocent and Princess Diaries’ vibe in her at this point. It is a likeable trait and shows lot of potential in being more as an actress. We do know that she is capable of bigger and more mature roles nowadays. Most of the scenes with Ella as some of the best because she is so fun to watch. Along with the fact that her and Hugh Dancy have pretty good chemistry that it makes their love story even more appealing. I haven’t seen Hugh Dancy in a lot of movies. The one I remember slightly might be a few years ago when I saw Confessions of a Shopaholic (and then IMDB tells me that I’ve also seen him in Blood and Chocolate and The Jane Austen Book Club, oh well). He is a charming man for sure and fits well in the role of Prince Char. Perhaps the most entertaining part of Ella Enchanted is watching these two characters. While over the top to a certain degree, still manages to remain believable.
Ella Enchanted

Aside from our main characters, Ella’s crew of friends that she makes along her journey probably are the silliest. She has a magical book that is her household fairy, Mandy’s (played by Minnie Driver) boyfriend. There’s an elf who wants to be a lawyer and not sing and dance. There’s some silly orcs (I think) and of course, some friendly giants. The story is that Char’s uncle is ruling over the kingdom before he comes into coronation, which is pretty much when the story is set and he has decreed rules that make the other species feel repressed and treated cruelly. These friends while filled with a heart of courage and help with making this funny, sometimes can be a little off beat from the story. It still is fun and innocent especially seeing as this is a truly harmless story and one that we’re pretty familiar with.

Ella Enchanted

Finally, our villain. All fairy tales have one. Ours is none other than Char’s power lusting uncle Edgar played by Cary Elwes. And he also has a sidekick which is a magical CGI snake called Heston. Are you sensing an Aladdin’s Jafar feeling here with his Iago? Either way, Ella Enchanted is very lighthearted and even in its most sinister and dark moments still manages to keep it light and funny. Edgar is completely comedic in many ways. The other villain, in some ways, is the stepsister played by Lucy Punch who really just wanted Ella out of the way in order to get her hands on Prince Char for herself. Nothing too threatening about this character other than the fact that she’s merely a pawn in the whole ordeal to Ella’s dilemma. What makes sure that we are definitely watching a mash-up princess movie and not Cinderella is that our villain isn’t the stepmother who would mimick the role of Lady Tremaine but really has a small role here and who is not at all threatening.

Ella Enchanted

Ella Enchanted is an innocent and fun movie. It never lets us forget that we are watching a fairy tale story with an impressive heroine geared towards a younger audience. It keeps it light by staying comedic and making it a funny affair to watch. There is good chemistry between Anne Hathaway and Hugh Dancy who are clearly the strength of this film. The story is familiar and simple and quite predictable and yet, there’s something charming about it. Perhaps it is because fairy tales, especially live action ones nowadays are getting so dark that its nice to visit one that remembers to keep it fun and fantastical.

Have you seen Ella Enchanted?

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon Wrap-up: Wild Wild West (1999) by Drew’s Movie Reviews

We have arrived, ladies and gents! We are at the final day of the Ultimate 90’s Blogathon and both my fantastically awesome co-host Drew from Drew’s Movie Reviews and I will be sharing our final wrap-up posts on each other’s sites. First to share is Drew with his review of 1999’s Wild Wild West. Will Smith, Kenneth Brannagh, humor and wild west…

Take it away, Drew!

Synopsis
Army Captain James West (Will Smith) is tasked by President Grant (Kevin Kline) to work together with US Marshal Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) to find the ex-Confederate scientist Dr. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh) before he can take over the United States government.

Review
Wild Wild West was a go-to movie for my friend and I back when we were growing up.  Between the two of us, we could (and still can!) quote the movie in its entirety.  Having watched this many times over the years, I acknowledge that the nostalgia factor might affect my enjoyment of the film, as I have found several flaws since watching it as a young lad. However, that doesn’t mean it still can’t be enjoyed on its own merits.

Right out the gate, this movie is goofy. Not funny, although it is that too, but goofy.  Artemis Gordon’s inventions feel a little too perfect for the situations they get Gordon and Jim West out of. Arliss Loveless’ beard rivals Crane’s beard from The Hunger Games for most intricate movie beard, acting as the proverbial “I’m the bad guy” sign.  Loveless’ invention to bring the “US government to its knees” is a giant, steam-punk tarantula.  Everything about this movie screams “Saturday morning cartoon.” Nevertheless, it has a sense of fun that many film miss, which is why it still works for even as I’ve grown older.  Wild Wild West never takes itself seriously, making it fun for both the actors and the audience.

The humor can be seen as a little juvenile, like the scene below, but that kind of humor is what I like.  Will Smith and John Kline are enjoyable to watch together.  This film came out relatively early in Smith’s film career. It is fun to see how he has brought the same energy and personality to his characters throughout all of his movies, whether they were in the 90s, when he started film acting, or today.  I’ll admit I haven’t seen many of Kline’s films to compare Artemis Gordon to his other roles but his comedy here is more subtle than Smith’s which works because having two boisterous comedians would be too much.

Besides the two leads, the other two big supporting actors, Salma Hayek and Kenneth Branagh are clearly having a good time too.  The often scantily clad Hayek is obviously there for the eye candy and to give West and Gordon someone to compete for, but it doesn’t appear to bother her and she gives a memorable performance.  Branagh gets fully into the maniacal villain role.  It’s cartoonish and over the top but he steals his every scene he’s in.

I thought Wild Wild West was GOOD 🙂 It isn’t afraid to be silly and have fun with itself, which might turn off other viewers but I really enjoyed that.  Everyone, from Will Smith and Kevin Kline to Salma Hayek and Kennith Branagh, feel like they are enjoying themselves.  I grew up watching this film regularly and although its imperfections have become more apparent over the years, it still is every bit the fun, adventurous romp I remember it to be.

Favorite Scene

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Barry Sonnenfeld – Director
Jim Thomas – Story
John Thomas – Story
SS Wilson – Screenplay
Brent Maddock – Screenplay
Jefferey Price – Screenplay
Peter S Seaman – Screenplay
Elmer Bernstein – Composer

Will Smith – James West
Kevin Kline – Artemis Gordon / President Ulysses S Grant
Kenneth Branagh – Dr. Arliss Loveless
Salma Hayek – Rita Escobar
M. Emmet Walsh – Coleman
Ted Levine – General “Bloodbath” McGrath
Frederique van der Wal – Amazonia
Musetta Vander – Munitia
Sofia Eng – Miss Lippenrieder
Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon – Belle
Bai Ling – Miss East

Remember to head over to Drew’s later today to see my wrap-up post!
Hint: Its also a triple feature (just like my kick-off)!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Anastasia (1997) by Starry Traveler’s Road

Ultimate 90s Blogathon banner

Next up is not only a blogger but also a childhood friend of mine, Phoebe from Starry Traveler’s Road with her review of Anastasia! This movie is one of my faves also. However, if you haven’t been to her blog, she posts pretty casually but she has posts on being a mom of a newborn, otome reviews and recently, some movie reviews called Movies with BunBun segment. For those who don’t know, we’re also starting up a new collab segment that will be here soon. We’re wrapping up some preparation work and it’ll be a food segment. Remember to head over and check out her blog after you’re done here.

Take it away, Phoebe!

Anastasia

Movies with Bun Bun: Anastasia (1997)

Hello everyone! Big thank yous to Tranquil Dreams and Drew for hosting the Ultimate 90s Blogathon! The Ultimate 80s Blogathon was so much fun that I decided to give movie reviews another try!

Looking back, I never quite understood why I have always had a keen interest in studying royal history since I was young. Unlike some people, I never dreamt to be a princess though it is a fact that I have always wanted to be a historian. The Russian royal family was one of the three families that I studied as a hobby. While powerful rulers like Catherine the Great fascinated me, the whole mystery surrounding Tsar Nicolas II’s family during the Russian Revolution mystified me, especially when the news revealed two bodies were missing in an excavation all the way back in 1991. (For those who do not know, the whole family and their servants’ bodies are all accounted for in 2009.)

First thing that came to my mind was: who is this mysterious Grand Duchess Anastasia? The more that I read about her, the more I found that she was quite interesting. When this animated movie came out, I wondered how Anastasia would be portrayed and how her ‘story’ would unfold if she managed to escape from captivity. Anyway, enough rambling and on with the review.

The last surviving child of the Russian Royal Family joins two con men to reunite with her grandmother, the Dowager Empress, while the undead Rasputin seeks her death. – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0118617/

There was a lot of things that I loved about this movie as I felt back then that Disney’s animation started to go downhill since Beauty and the Beast. I was particularly fond of Anastasia’s graphics and storyline. The characters are very well drawn and developed though I always wished Pooka the dog would appear more often. The dialogues and bantering between characters, especially Anastasia and Dimitri, were very entertaining. As a historian who understands this is a fictional movie, I cannot say that I imagined that Anastasia would end up in Paris, the City of Love, out of all the places in the world to reunite with her grandmother; but hey, there must be some mushy romance thrown somewhere in the story! The locations are so well illustrated that I really want to see them for myself, especially the Catherine Palace! Music was amazing to the point that I owned the soundtrack and often played Once Upon a December, Journey to the Past, Learn to Do It and At the Beginning on repeat. (At the Beginning was chosen as one of the songs played at my wedding.)

Fast forward a few years and boom! My daughter, bun bun, appeared. I am still trying to figure out bun bun’s opinion on this movie as it took us around 5 times before we managed to finish the movie. Unlike An American Tail from the last Blogathon, she was more interested in running around, pressing buttons on my keyboard, climbing on furniture and testing my patience. The only things that caught her attention was Anastasia’s dog, Pooka, and the faster songs like A Rumor in St. Petersburg. I thought the soothing and haunting melodies like Once Upon a December would appeal to her as I often sang them to her; but no, she danced to Rasputin’s In the Dark of the Night! It is obvious that our taste in music differs and she is ready to party as if she is 18 even though she is only a toddler, but we have one thing in common: we both love Pooka!

Anyway, I asked myself what I should do when I reintroduce this movie to an older bun bun. Should I let her see this movie only as an animated movie or should I try to explain the real person/history behind the fictional movie? What do you think?

Thanks to Phoebe for a wonderful write-up on Anastasia! 
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews tomorrow for the next review in the blogathon!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: Sleepless in Seattle (1993) by Life of this City Girl

ultimate 90's blogathon

We are wrapping week 2 of Ultimate 90’s Blogathon with an entry by Natasha from Life of this City Girl. She’s here with a review of Sleepless in Seattle, a great follow-up with another Meg Ryan movie from last year’s When Harry Met Sally. If you haven’t been to Life of this City Girl, she does book, movies and TV series reviews. Remember to head over to give her some love after you’re done here!

Movie Review: Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

Sleepless in Seattle

Hey everyone! Natasha here from Life of This City Girl. I’m so excited today to share with you a review I did for two of my favorite bloggers’ 90’s marathon. Thanks Kim and Drew for letting me take part! (and also making me watch this again)

I chose Sleepless in Seattle because 1) it meets the criteria and 2) I’ve really always been meaning to watch this film again. I’m not even going to pretend that I’m one of those girls who don’t love a good romantic comedy – I love them and I’m not afraid to admit it. The older ones are undeniably better than the newer ones, both in dialogue and acting, so it is always a real pleasure getting to them.

Sleepless in Seattle is really dialogue heavy. I like a film where the characters talk and there is sense to the chatter so for me to end up being frustrated with the amount of conversation going on, it must be quite intense. Some of the comedic timing seemed off and misplaced, and the parts I’m sure was created as jokes weren’t funny at all. It could have been the whole me-being-born-in-the-wrong-decade thing, and I simply don’t get the way they made jokes back then.

I also feel like I have to mention the amount of stereotypes the film bludgeoned into its’ watchers that I was none too pleased with. It was a given that these females were desperately looking for a husband – not someone to share a life with, just a title to change your name and status and follow the neat path the world set out for you. It is also downright insulting to all the wonderful single fathers out there that there is this constant insinuation that if you are a man, you need a woman with you to properly raise a kid. We all know it is not true! The director used a sledgehammer laced with zero subtlety informing us that women cry for romantic movies and men like action movies. I retched. Metaphorically, but I retched.

Apart from that, I found the film quite fun. Sleepless in Seattle is innocent and sweet. No kissy time even. The kid is adorable and I generally prefer movies without children. Rosie O’Donnell is one of those amazing women who emits sarcasm with perfectly pleasant facial expressions. It is a great attribute and gave me some good laughs during the film.

Sleepless in Seattle is not my favorite nineties film by far, but I can see why it is considered a classic. I also always have a good laugh about the fashion back then. I’m glad to report that everyone had better hair in the nineties than they did in the eighties, because that was bad, and although the clothes weren’t completely yet where we needed them to be, everyone was looking so much better. I am still really glad I didn’t have to wear all those bulky suits they forced women to wear when we started entering the workplace in earnest.
Sleepless in Seattle
The ending was naturally very cute and I enjoyed it, but sheesh, I wish we lived in a world where you’d be alive after meeting a random stranger in New York and immediately take his hand and go frolicking into the sunset. If he also looked like young Tom Hanks, I’d be so on board!

To sum this up I enjoyed this film more than just a bit. I wouldn’t rate it as first on a 90’s list or as a romantic comedy, but it is fun and sweet.

Thanks again guys!

Thanks to Natasha for a great review on Sleepless in Seattle! 🙂
Be sure to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews on Monday for the next entry!

Ultimate 90’s Blogathon: The Sweet Hereafter (1997) by Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews

Ultimate 90s Blogathon banner

Joining us again in this next entry is Charlene from Charlene’s (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews with her second review for the Ultimate 90’s blogathon with her choice of The Sweet Hereafter. If you missed her previous review of The Adventures of Priscilla: The Queen of the Desert, head over to see it HERE.

The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

Grief is an unfortunate yet unavoidable process. This can be related to and can include loss of a relationship, job, or physical or emotional loss of a loved one. While there are various stages of grief, each individual handles it differently. They may exact revenge, anger, guilt, or detachment. Regardless, these events are life-altering. They halt the anticipated course of our life trajectory, interrupting any previous sense of rationale we once held. “The Sweet Hereafter”, a 1997 Canadian film directed by Atom Egoyan, explores the complex web of emotions associated with grief and bereavement following great tragedy impacting a rural community in British Columbia.

Mitchell Stephens (Ian Holm), an outside lawyer with a complex and contentious relationship with his daughter Zoe (Caerthan Banks), ventures to a small Canadian town during a harsh winter. He is representing a group of citizens in a class action lawsuit for negligence against their own town and a bus company. We quickly learn the true, heartbreaking nature of this lawsuit – a bus accident claiming the lives of fourteen children. Carefully paced, Stephens unearths the raw reality, fears, and new challenges of those affected by the crash, wrestling with his role in Zoe’s battle with drug addiction.

There are many techniques enhancing storytelling used in this devastating yet beautiful film. Firstly, it is crafted such that the story is out of sequence. This aids to juxtapose between a sorrowful present and a once joyful past, but also to highlight parallels between Stephens’ suffering and that of the community. In addition, “The Pied Piper” is incorporated into the story, showcasing similarities between a legend known to many and this town’s tragedy. Nicole Burnell (Sarah Polley) narrates, and her role as “the lame child” serves as a metaphor for her own fate. As a whole, these techniques enhance the palpability of the film’s catastrophic truths.

The Sweet Hereafter” is spoken within a phrase near the end of the film. Nicole recites that the once united community is now emotionally disbanded, living separate “strange and new” lives in the “sweet hereafter”. I initially felt that there is a great sense of irony in the title, as the future following a mass casualty seems quite grim. However, in the process of grief, acceptance is generally deemed as the final stage. I do not believe that we “move on” from tragic events as they will forever be imprinted in our memories, but we try to create a new sense of normalcy through an understanding and acceptance of our past. Through this, we may be able to find peace and meaning in the new paths we forge.

the-sweet-hereafter

 Thanks to Charlene for her beautiful review of The Sweet Hereafter! 🙂
Remember to head over to Drew’s Movie Reviews for tomorrow’s entry for Ultimate 90’s Blogathon!