movie film review | chris tookey

Sweet Sixteen

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  Sweet Sixteen Review
Tookey's Rating
4 /10
Average Rating
7.50 /10
Martin Compston, Michelle Coulter, Annmarie Fulton
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Directed by: Ken Loach
Written by: Paul Laverty

Released: 2002
Genre: DRAMA
Origin: 0
Colour: C
Length: 106

Ken Loach cares about characters whom most of us would cross the road to avoid, and that's the main strength of Sweet Sixteen, which finds pathos in the exuberance of a 15 year-old petty criminal called Liam (charismatically played by the unknown Martin Compston) living on a housing estate in Greenock. He dreams of being able to buy a caravan and support his drug-addled mother (Michelle Coulter) as soon as she's out of jail, and his sister Chantelle (Annmarie Fulton), a 17-year-old who is (I need hardly say) the single mum of a son borne when she was about 14. So Liam uses his entrepreneurial skills to become a drug pusher and rise in the local criminal hierarchy.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty clearly intend this to be an ironic commentary on capitalism, and the kind of personal economic advancement that they as Socialists find unacceptable.

Unfortunately, their point is not developed in a persuasive way, and there's none of the style that Martin Scorsese brought to the nearest US equivalent, Mean Streets. The Glaswegian accents - subtitled during the first 15 minutes - render most of the dialogue incomprehensible. Just audible, however, is the greatest onslaught of c-words and f-words that I can recall in any film, let alone one financed by the BBC.

The atmosphere is relentlessly miserable. No positive solutions are envisaged. There is no attempt to examine whether it is capitalism that is at fault, or a breakdown in human decency that may have little or nothing to do with the economic system.

Most damaging of all is the extreme predictability of the plot. If Loach and Laverty went out to the movies more, they would have seen virtually every character and event duplicated in some other miserabilist movie. The result is a tedious compendium of housing-estate cliches, that never rises above the level of sour agit-prop.

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