The Sweet Hereafter script
Synopsis: A small mountain community in Canada is devastated when a school bus accident leaves more than a dozen of its children dead. A big-city lawyer (Ian Holm) arrives to help the survivors' and victims' families prepare a class-action suit, but his efforts only seem to push the townspeople further apart. At the same time, one teenage survivor of the accident (Sarah Polley) has to reckon with the loss of innocence brought about by a different kind of damage.

FADE IN:

INT. SUMMER COTTAGE -- DAY

A young family together in bed. It is a bright summer

morning. Father, mother, and a three year old girl are

still asleep. They are naked. A light breeze drifts into

the room. The scene is serene and softly suspended.

Head credits appear over this idyllic image. The little

girl turns in her sleep. A dog barks outside.

CUT TO:

INT./EXT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

From the peaceful tableau of the sleeping family, the scene

shifts to a vehicle entering a car wash. The image is shot

through the windshield, from the driver's point of view.

The car enters the lathered world of spinning felt wheels

and gushing water.

CUT TO:

INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

Inside the car MITCHELL STEPHENS, a man in his mid-fifties,

listens to a stirring piece of music. The sound of the car

wash is filtered out by the strains of music.

CUT TO:

EXT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

The phone booth is located in a rundown area of a large

city. A young woman, ZOE, enters the booth and lifts the

receiver.

CUT TO:

INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

MITCHELL STEPHENS is going through the wash. The automatic

mops and buffers embrace his car with water and suds. The

cellular phone in the car rings. MITCHELL picks it up.

MITCHELL:

Yes? Yes, I'll accept the charges.

CUT TO:

INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

ZOE is on the phone. There's a figure outside the booth

waiting for her.

ZOE:

Daddy, it's me...How are you doing?

That's great...Where are you?

What's that sound?

CUT TO:

INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

MITCHELL in his car, playing with the volume on his radio.

MITCHELL:

I'm in a car wash.

CUT TO:

INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

ZOE:

A car wash! Wow, I've never talked

to you when you've been in a car

wash. Make sure you've got the

windows closed.

CUT TO:

INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

ZOE:

(over the phone)

Remember that time we were having

the car washed and I started playing

with the automatic window? How old

was I, Daddy? Five or six? I got

absolutely soaked, remember?

MITCHELL:

Why are you calling me, Zoe?

CUT TO:

INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

ZOE:

Why am I calling you? You're my

father. I'm not supposed to call

you? What's the matter with wanting

to talk to you, Daddy?

CUT TO:

INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

MITCHELL:

Nothing's wrong with trying to talk

to me, Zoe.

ZOE:

(over the phone)

So what's the problem?

MITCHELL:

The problem is I have no idea who

I'm talking to right now.

ZOE:

(over the phone)

'Cause you think I'm stoned, Daddy?

'Cause you think I've got a needle

stuck in my arm? Is that what

you're thinking, Daddy?

Pause. MITCHELL doesn't respond.

CUT TO:

INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

ZOE:

Are you wondering if I scored,

Daddy, and I'm calling you for

money? That I'm begging? God, I

don't fucking believe it!

CUT TO:

INT. CAR WASH. -- NIGHT

MITCHELL is emotionally stunned by ZOE'S voice. She is

heard over the phone.

ZOE:

(over the phone)

Daddy! Are you listening to me,

Daddy?!

The music that MITCHELL has been listening to becomes louder

as he stares at the spinning felt wheels of the car wash.

ZOE (CONT'D)

DADDY!!!

MITCHELL:

Yes.

ZOE:

Why can't you talk to me?

MITCHELL:

I...I just need to know what state

you're in so I know...how to talk to

you...how to act...

MITCHELL is in pain. He closes his eyes.

CUT TO:

INT. PHONE BOOTH -- NIGHT

The phone booth is deserted. ZOE is nowhere to be seen.

Over this image, the sounds of a band playing a blues

number.

CUT TO:

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Atom Egoyan

Atom Egoyan, CC is a Canadian director, writer, producer and former actor. Egoyan made his career breakthrough with Exotica, a film set primarily in and around the fictional Exotica strip club. more…

All Atom Egoyan scripts | Atom Egoyan Books

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"The Sweet Hereafter" Scripts.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2017. Web. 12 Dec. 2017. <http://www.scripts.com/script/the_sweet_hereafter_530>.

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