Sweet Sixteen (2002)

KEN LOACH

United Kingdom/Germany/Spain, 2002.  

Alta Films, British Broadcasting Corporation, Road Movies Filmproduktion, Scottish Screen, Sixteen Films, Tornasol Films.  Screenplay by Paul Laverty.  Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd.  Produced by Rebecca O’Brien.  Music by George Fenton.  Production Design by Martin Johnson.  Costume Design by Carole K. Millar.  Film Editing by Jonathan Morris.  Cannes Film Festival 2002.  Toronto International Film Festival 2002.

Just shy of his sixteenth birthday, young Liam is facing issues that most people couldn’t handle in full adulthood: his mother is in prison after taking the fall for her drug-dealing boyfriend, he is trying to overcome the dreariness of his small Scottish town by going from selling cheap cigarettes on the street to dealing drugs himself. When he gets involved with a high-powered dealer who admires Liam’s ambition and savvy business sense, the ridiculous immaturity of his best friend threatens his success and forces him to take action. This engrossing film by Ken Loach details the sad reality of crime as an everlasting cycle of oppressive poverty without ever being relentlessly depressing. The characters are wholly amiable, and ‘s performance in the lead makes for a compelling character study. No matter how many bad choices we are forced to watch Liam make, our faith in him holds us captive until the end of the film. Brilliantly done, with an expert script and top-notch performances.

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