Old Stuff

Sweet Sixteen (2002)

Directed by Ken Loach

Director Ken Loach brings us to the bleak, mean streets of Glasgow in this story of the bleak, mean life of its main character, fifteen year old Liam. His mother is due to be released from prison on his sixteenth birthday and the optimistic Liam decides to get enough money together to buy a modest trailer home away from the nasty city where he, his mother and his seventeen year old sister (and her toddler son) can live in peace and try to get themselves on the right track. He figures that in the few months before his Mum's release, he can embark on a temporary career of petty crime with his old pal, Pinball, in order to come up with the down payment. After a bumpy start, Liam proves to be quite nervy and cunning in his venture. He eventually attracts the attention of a local crime boss and goes to work for him, leaving the small-time Pinball behind.

Sweet Sixteen (2002) -- it's a crime

What poor little Liam doesn't realize is that he has slowly become entwined in the very life from which he's trying to escape. His high hopes are infectious, which means that the eventual setbacks are all the more disheartening, but they make you want the wee lad to succeed even more. This is by no means a feel-good-movie that Loach has given us. He maximizes the raw feel of the movie by using young locals with no previous acting experience. Their Glaswegian accent is so strong that it is virtually unintelligible to Americans, so this is one of the few movies that has both English dialogue and English subtitles. I'm sure that it's also the reason why the movie will only be released in select cities, leaving the suburban googolplexes to run summer blockbusters in every theater. -- Rating: $7.50 (the going price of a shot of Glenfiddich at Mr. Booze)

Mike Santoro -- copyright 2003

Old Stuff