When I was eighteen years old and in my first year of college I was mad crushin’ on Sarah Polley. One day, after my Acting for the Camera class my friend Melissa B. and I went to the Kabuki and caught a matinee screening of Go. For us, it was the cream of the crop of the teen films of the era. Seeing Sarah Polley in that movie made me fall for her, no two ways about it.
Two days later I was talking about GO to Toshi and Kit, two of my co-workers at Viz Media, and I asked them what other movies Sarah Polley has been in. They both brought up The Sweet Hereafter as her best film, I knew I had to see it. Kit’s parting words to me “It’s an amazing film but be careful, if you watch it, it’ll fuck you up.”
That weekend I rented The Sweet Hereafter at Lost Weekend on Valencia Street and rushed home to watch it. I watched the entire film in awe and with tears streaming down my face. True to Kit’s word, my emotions were gore danced, curb stomped, sucka punched, and otherwise tore the fuck up. I sat in front of my TV sobbing like a mark. I realized that my true calling was not as a Sarah Polley fan but as a Atom Egoyan aficionado.
From that moment on I delved into the filmography of Atom Egoyan and became supreme master of knowledge of his 90’s oeuvre from The Adjuster to Felicia’s Journey. Still, The Sweet Hereafter was always my favorite. Once I got my DVD player in ’98 I would sit and watch it endlessly. It was one of my favorite films to have running in the background while I drew. Occasionally I would end up taking inspiration from the film itself and the drawings below are some that I did of the two main characters of the movie.
That’s Ian Holm (Mitchell Stephens in the movie) to the right and a drawing & sketch of Sarah Polley (Nicole Burnell). It’s hard to believe these drawings are already 10 years old. Time does fly!
If you have never experienced this amazing movie I humbly suggest you give it a try. It does put you through an emotional ringer but I can’t speak highly enough of it. The book by Russell Banks that the movie is based on is quite different but equally incredible too.