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:: Sweet Sixteen

The mean streets of Glasgow, Scotland are the focus of this film by Ken Loach. He takes a thoughtful look at a young man’s attempt to escape the destiny paved for him by his family and environment. Essentially a bleak and emotional story, Sweet Sixteen draws us in with a lively sense of character and off-handed humour.

Liam (Martin Compston) is fifteen and trying to sort out his life. His mother Suzanne (Michelle Coulter) is in jail, while her low-life criminal boyfriend (Gary McCormack) swaggers free. Liam hasn’t been to school for nine months and spends his days selling cigarettes down the local pub with his best friend Pinball (William Ruane). The only other person who cares for Liam is his older sister Chantelle (Annmarie Fulton). To help get this better life in the future, Liam unfortunately gets caught up with the local mob through drug money. Pinball is not a good role model while Chantelle is busy trying to raise a baby boy. Suzanne is due to be released from jail on the eve of Liam’s sixteenth birthday. Hoping for a good life for all, Liam sets his sights on buying a dilapidated caravan on the beach. To buy it, Liam and Pinball steal heroin from Suzanne’s criminal boyfriend and begin selling it. The local drug king is impressed with Liam’s initiative. Things get a little too complicated and eventually violent.

This film resonates with feeling and honesty and there is an edge behind the subtle camera work. The performances are natural and instinctive, heightening the viewer’s involvement. Listen out for the thick Scottish accents. Subtitles appear in parts.

Sweet Sixteen is a film of power and truth. The hard-hitting drama has a terrific screenplay. It’s an illuminating effort by Ken Loach in providing an insight into the difficult choices with which British teenagers face.

Screening at the KinoDendy Cinemas and Classic Cinemas.