Best of all--not just yesterday but in the festival so far--is Atom Egoyan's
brilliant "The Sweet Hereafter," about a middle-aged lawyer visiting
a rural community where he hopes to organize the anger and sorrow of plain-minded
citizens whose lives have been forever altered by a tragic accident in which
a school bus skidded off a road and sank into a lake. In typical Egoyan
fashion, the movie tells its story in a time-twisting manner, switching
between the days of the attorney's visit, the lives of the townspeople and
the lawyer before any of this happened, and a couple of years later when
it's all a memory. The results are as intricate and intelligent as earlier
Egoyan pictures like "Speaking Parts" and "The Adjuster"
and "Exotica," and for the first time there's a fully realized
soul to the movie, as well, which I found enormously moving on both emotional
and intellectual levels. Everything from camera movements and montage to
colors, music, and dialogue--including superb use of the venerable "Pied
Piper of Hamelin" folk tale--is superbly realized. Not everyone I've
talked with agrees with me, but I think it's more than worthy of the Palm
d'Or and any other award you can think of.
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