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SWEET SIXTEEN

SYNOPSIS:
Liamís mum, Jean (Michelle Coulter) is due to be released from prison just in time for his 16th birthday and Liam (Martin Compston) wants to set her up with a new life, away from her boyfriend Stan (Gary McCormack). He is anxious to have her part of his life, like any family. Already on the edges of petty crime, Liam figures he can raise the money for a fresh start by selling drugs, but gets in over his head with the local crims. And when his mother gets out, his hopes for a new family life with her are dashed.†


Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Ken Loach is compassion on legs. His films are about the downtrodden and misfortunate (as well as sometimes the unfortunate), and itís his care for the humanity in all these characters that make him a special filmmaker. As an Englishman, he sticks to his own territory: the rain sodden social gulags of a society crammed together and huddling in the shadows of poverty, deprivation and urban decay. Sounds like fun, doesnít it.†

But Sweet Sixteen is not about catharsis; itís about alerting his audience to what is going on in a million households around the world. Itís not the usual story, either. This is what is called a dysfunctional family, but that dreadful phrase is just a shield against the harsh reality of what it really is: a mother who doesnít much care for her child/children. The fact that Loach tackles this issue is remarkable in itself. Itís not exactly left wing material. Nor is it commercially viable. Who wants to spend $14 a head to be depressed? But itís important for cinema to tackle the tougher issues if the medium is to maintain its relevance. The film boasts sensational naturalistic performances and a raw edge that is undeniable. I donít think I can tell you that itís entertaining. It draws blood.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

SWEET SIXTEEN (MA)
(UK)

CAST: Martin Compston, Annemarie Fulton, William Runae, Michelle Coulter, Gary McCormick, Tommy McKee

PRODUCER: Rebecca OíBrien

DIRECTOR: Ken Loach

SCRIPT: Paul Laverty

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Barry Ackroyd

EDITOR: Jonathan Morris

MUSIC: George Fenton

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Martin Johnson

RUNNING TIME: 106 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Niche Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 27, 2003







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