Sweet Sixteen
4 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
sweet sixteen After traveling around the world a bit, Scottish filmmaker Loach is home in Glasgow with this excellent, gritty drama. Liam (Compston) is 15 and trying to sort out life in general. His mother (Coulter) is in jail, while her low-life criminal boyfriend (McCormack) swaggers free. So Liam hatches a plan with his best friend Pinball (Ruane) to help out both Mum and his single-mum sister (Fulton). But it involves drug money, and soon he's caught up with the local mob.

Essentially a bleak story, the film draws us in with a lively sense of character, offhanded humour and sharply authentic actors. It's never a slog, never depressing or hopeless, even though what happens, when you think about it, is rather terrible. Loach is an expert at making marginal elements of society look like normal life (well, they are!), and this film resonates with truth and feeling without ever preaching. There's an edginess here that belies the subtle and skilled camera work, accompanied by George Fenton's terrific music. And a sharp streak of real-life humour flows through the film from start to finish, undercut by the difficult choices Liam is forced to make before his 16th birthday. The only problem with the film is the thickly accented dialect, which requires subtitles even for an English-speaking audience (I'd say I understood about half of the dialog). But even if you can't tell exactly what they're saying, you will know--and feel--what they mean.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 31.Jul.02

dir Ken Loach
scr Paul Laverty
with Martin Compston, William Ruane, Annmarie Fulton, Michelle Coulter, Gary McCormack, Michelle Abercromby, Tommy McKee, Calum McAlees, Robert Rennie, Martin McCardie, Jon Morrison, Junior Walker
release UK 4.Oct.02; US 16.May.03
02/UK 1h46

He ain't heavy. Chantelle (Fulton) helps Liam (Compston) clean up after a brawl...
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
sweet sixteen send your review to Shadows... "Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant. I'm getting everyone to go and see it. Quite simply the best film in recent years. All the characters shine and make it a team performance from virtual unknowns." --Coliun Mcgee, Glasgow 9.Oct.02

"I have just watched the film and all I can say is that this film has to be the best film I have ever seen. From start to finish I was enthralled by the excellent acting of the characters, especially Martin Compston, and the storyline. Absolutely brilliant." --Steve Burchnell, Dartford UK 2.May.03

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall