The Sweet Hereafter

Russell Banks

i managed to rent this movie right when my roommate received the book as a gift. i didn’t really care for the movie at all. so much of the story seemed painfully undeveloped, major events slipped in casually and then never referenced again. reading the book, it’s a novel i would not have predicted to be hollywoodified, so i guess i would have expected the results.

basically this is the aftermath of a tragic school bus crash that leaves few survivors. the book is told through a sequence of narrators, and it’s all very internal. everything that makes this story interesting can’t possibly be translated into a film — without massive voiceovers, from which we are spared. the narrative does include some interviews between a lawyer (who ends up being the main character in the movie somehow) and a few of the characters; it fills in some of the gaps. overall it just seems weird to consider the two sweet hereafters the same story, even though the major plot points are the same.

i can’t decide if it would have been better to have just read this and never seen the movie or if seeing the movie first and reading/analyzing the book was actually more entertaining than just reading it would have been. at least the movie of this marginally better than the film version of mrs. dalloway, which is perhaps too true to the story, and therefore entirely boring.