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Through Liam's story, "Sweet Sixteen" makes the rather depressing point that street life can claim even the best-intentioned among us. What makes the movie work is the ambiguity that Compston brings to his character, aided by a first-class script and some very dreary cinematography. Liam is neither a hero nor a villain; he's just a kid doing his best to live a normal life amid highly unenviable circumstances. And he'll do anything to achieve that normal life, even if it means selling heroin to afford a trailer for himself and his family. Of course, it should be obvious to most that drug-dealing is not the best path to normalcy and stability, but Liam's misguided nature is the very quality that makes him such a tragic and sympathetic figure.Read more ›
Ultimately, we learn that love is not an unconditional thing and love does not come to life in a mother's heart when she gives birth. The film challanges our absolute standards, crossing barriers that are usually seen as too dangerous. Liam holds on to his dream throughout the film (until the end), the dream that some sense of morality can survive amidst the squalor of his drug-infested surroundings. But circumstance and fate can crush anything, and we are forced to part with our overly idealistic image of the selfless and loving mother in the face of poverty and danger.
Liam seems trapped throughout the entire movie, and it is clear that his fate will be dreary. The film does an excellent job of frequently portraying Liam as a prisoner, with shots of him looking through windows, pounding at doors in desparation, or waiting for some answer from behind a wall.Read more ›
Liam is portrayed by the perfectly cast Martin Compston, whose emotive face can seem so youthfully vibrant yet at the same time so weathered and world-weary. And apt visage aside, this first-time actor here proves himself to be one of the great young performers emerging in the cinematic world of late - his pitch-perfect portrayal of Liam is right up there with recent starmaking roles turned in by the likes of Ryan Gosling and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt.
Liam is joined in this film by his best friend and literal partner-in-crime Pinball (who's certainly no wizard, although is perhaps so named because of the way he careeningly drives the "borrowed" vehicles in which he joyrides). Pinball is ably portrayed by William Ruane, another previously unknown local who is also quite a find. Together the two boys try to find ways to survive and thrive amidst an environment in which the odds are greatly stacked against them.
The film is actually shot in Greenock, just down the Clyde river from Glasgow, a town where almost all the jobs have moved elsewhere, leading to few "legitimate" ways to earn money. A place where once-lovely but now dilapidated tower blocks are inhabited in equal measure by junkies and families. As Loach himself states in the appropriately spare commentary track (where long silences abound), it's a location where the visually spectacular scenery "contrasts rather sadly with the quality of life of many of the people who live there.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An excellent portrayal of Willis' 2nd wave in small town in Scotland. Very well made. It is in English but you'll need the English sub-titles unless you are fluent in Scottish... Read morePublished on March 19, 2009 by Bad Monkey
Set in a town outside Glasgow, this film tells a sometimes heart-stopping and finally heart-rending story of a 15-year-old boy's attempt to create an orderly life out of the... Read morePublished on November 18, 2007 by Ronald Scheer
British director Loach is a master at evoking the hardship of poverty in working-class England, and this hard-hitting drama about a Scottish teen's coming of age is no exception. Read morePublished on July 25, 2007 by John Farr
Think about this movie and how it applies to real life situations? An abusive family, mother in jail, the kids being in foster homes. Read morePublished on January 24, 2007 by Crazium
Ken Loach's film ends on Liam's sixteenth birthday, and it is probably not much of a spoiler to say that aside from being around to make sixteen, Liam's life -- both ahead and... Read morePublished on September 10, 2006 by James Carragher
This movie was spartan and bleak. It revolved around the life of a boy who loved his mother immensely and who would do anything just to bring the family back together once again. Read morePublished on May 13, 2006 by Ping Lim
This is a must see film. There is so much truth and honesty to the way Mr Loach presents his projects that you really FEEL so much while you are watching these people on the... Read morePublished on July 7, 2005 by Kathy Hutchison
Director Ken Loach delivers a well-paced documentary-like film set in Greenock, Scotland, that is centered around Liam (Martin Compson), a likeable protagonist who, with good... Read morePublished on June 23, 2005 by muskiedine