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Sweetie (The Criterion Collection) (1989)

Geneviève Lemon , Karen Colston , Jane Campion  |  R |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Geneviève Lemon, Karen Colston, Tom Lycos, Jon Darling, Dorothy Barry
  • Directors: Jane Campion
  • Writers: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee
  • Producers: Billy MacKinnon, John Maynard
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: October 24, 2006
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000H5U5RQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #261,762 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sweetie (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Sally Bongers and approved by director Jane Campion
  • Commentary featuring Campion and Bongers and screenwriter Gerard Lee
  • "Making Sweetie," a new video interview featuring the stars of the film
  • Campion's early short films: An Exercise in Discipline: Peel, Passionless Moments, and A Girl’s Own Story
  • "Jane Campion: The Film School Years," a 1989 conversation between Campion and critic Peter Thompson
  • Extensive gallery of behind-the-scenes photos and production stills
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Booklet with a new essay by film scholar Dana Polan

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Though she followed it with a string of brilliant films, Jane Campion will always be remembered for the shock and delight of her stunning debut feature, Sweetie. Campion focuses her askew, discerning lens on the hazardous relationship between the buttoned-down, superstitious Kay and her rampaging, devil-may-care sister, "Sweetie," and by extension, their entire family’s profoundly rotten roots. A feast of distinctly framed photography and captivating, idiosyncratic characters, Sweetie heralded the emergence of this enormously gifted director as well as the breakthrough of Australian cinema, which would take international film by storm in the Nineties.

Chock full of director Jane Campion's trademark sensitivity, her debut, Sweetie, is slyly emotional without sentimentality. In this family drama, Kay (Karen Colston) stars as a prudish, confused loner, who chooses her mate, Louis (Tom Lycos), based on the shape of the mole on his face. As a couple, they lack passion, due to Kay's fear of the erotic. Once her mentally ill sister, Dawn, a.k.a. Sweetie (Genevieve Lemon) comes to visit, the viewer understands that Kay's temperance has evolved out of her wish to tame her wild sister. As Kay's parents weather turbulence, and after Sweetie suffers a tragic fate, Kay's happiness becomes less and less tangible, until she realizes the basic human need for love. Campion embellishes this story of disconnection with camera shots that feel lonesome; a scene in which Kay and Louis swim is shot from across the body of water, at the water's eye level. An old-fashioned setting, at least in Kay's home, mocks the idea of a functional nuclear family. On every level, Sweetie is crafted by its tone, one of melancholy infused with hope, making it not only Campion's best film, but also a clear selection for the Criterion Collection. --Trinie Dalton

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's Not As Sweet As Her Name Might Suggest September 30, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Sweetie" is here! A Criterion treatment! The first time I saw "Sweetie" was purely by accident. It was before Jane Campion went on to make better known, bigger budget films--this film was her feature debut in Australia. And while I respect many of her works including "The Piano" and "An Angel At My Table", I don't have the passion for them that I do for this oddball of a movie. Part of the joy of seeing "Sweetie" for the first time was having no expectations. The film surprised me in every regard--it's wickedly funny, yet horrifying and moving at the same time. A few years ago, I found it again and I made my friends watch it, too. I was concerned it might not hold up to memory, but that feeling was short-lived as soon as the wondrous Genevieve Lemon came onscreen as Sweetie.

"Sweetie" is a film that really explores the notion of family. As the titular character, Sweetie is a powerful presence whose very existence has crippled her family and, in many ways, held them hostage. Primarily, we see things through Sweetie's sister Kay and I love that the film introduces us to the peculiarities of Kay without explanation. Then when Sweetie arrives on the scene, things start to become very clear as the family dynamic takes the foreground.

I consider "Sweetie" a comedy, but I'm not sure everyone would agree. But then, I have a bit of a sick sense of humor. Certainly there are many laughs to be had in the film--if only uncomfortable ones. But, make no mistake, there is also genuine and vivid emotional turmoil. The films success is that it balances these elements so well--and, in fact, that brings a bold realism and resonance to the proceedings.

The film is shot beautifully, and always slightly askew (which is perfect for the subject matter).
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pure pleasure June 13, 2002
Format:VHS Tape
I've seen three Campion movies. It took a long time for me to forgive 'The Piano''s humorless, heavy hands and move on to 'Holy Smoke!'. But HS revealed a comic sensibility that 'The Piano' never suspected. 'Sweetie,' Campion's first feature, is by far my favorite yet.
'Sweetie' is an odd film. Mostly, it's an examination of what it means to be an individual--inside of and outside of the repetitive struggles of family dramas--and the perils and joys of exclusion and elitism. Campion uses her sharp wit to draw blood, and without the comforts of a privileged moral voice (e.g. the competent parent or maternal sufferer of most family dramas), the humor can seem a little mean-spirited at times. But 'Sweetie' tempers its alienated perspective with moments of grace that are as terrifying, joyful and sublime as the dry open spaces of its Australian landscape.
Moving the viewer through a fractured world of beautiful and unsettling images, Sweetie is this director's most richly creative and psychically adventurous work.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars family trees August 11, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
This film is to director Jane Campion's The Piano what David Lynch's Eraserhead is to his The Elephant Man - a personal highly stylised experiment before the challenge of the more conventional big budget assignments that would allow for both a controlling of each director's excesses and a streamlining of their obsessions. The parallel between Lynch and Campion can also be extended to their mutual interest in loners, misfits and eccentrics, and they both treat them with piteous dignity, in much the same way photographer Diane Arbus did for her "freaks". Sweetie is similar to Eraserhead also because it's an endurance test for those who hold a high opinion of each director's later work. The fine line between pleasure and pain can be felt with great artists and their fine line between genius and crud. Campion here uses a song "Love will never let you fall" sung by Tony Backhouse and The Cafe of the Gate of Salvation Choir as a backdrop to her tale of two sisters. Campion dedicates the film to her own sister and the screenplay written by herself and Gerard Lee is based on Campion's idea, so we know this is a personal story. (Campion's sister Anna is now also a director). Campion doesn't introduce the title sister until she has established the nature of the first, Kay, but also we don't fully understand why Kay is the way she is until Sweetie arrives, and is soon followed by their father. Sweetie is a monstrous child/woman but when the arguments between sisters begin it's hard to know whose side to take, since Sweetie makes Kay just as dislikable. Read more ›
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thanks Again, Criterion! May 8, 2007
Once again, the Criterion Collection's given us a marvelous DVD transfer of a wonderful film that had rather fallen through the cracks -- in this case, Jane Campion's haunting feature debut, SWEETIE. Odd and intensely personal, the picture's full of striking images (particularly brilliant use of color in the set design), camera angles that are unusual without feeling forced, subversive comic writing, a wonderful soundtrack and, not least, fearless performances from a talented cast. This is the kind of movie that has such strong interior logic, the audience willingly follows where it leads, no matter how bizarre or unexpected the destination proves to be. I'd vividly remembered many scenes of SWEETIE since seeing it theatrically in its original release; experiencing Campion's vision again today is just as strong. The usual superior Criterion touches -- fascinating commentary and student works from this director, insightful essay in the accompanying booklet. If the only Campion films you know are THE PIANO or PORTRAIT OF A LADY, you may find many surprises here. Very worthwhile.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely mesmorising... the split off parts of ...
Absolutely mesmorising...the split off parts of oneself (the shadow), and one woman's quest to reintegrate.
Published 1 month ago by LA
4.0 out of 5 stars Campion's first theatrical feature with some of the journeyman short...
When it starts off with the eccentric and shy Kay (Karen Colston) falling in love with the handsome Louis (Tom Lycos), Jane Campion's 1988 film SWEETIE promises a romantic comedy. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Christopher Culver
4.0 out of 5 stars I Just Love Jane Campion Films
My favorite remains "An Angel At My Table," but "Sweetie" is definitely compelling. If you are a Campion fan, it's a must see. Read more
Published 7 months ago by suki
4.0 out of 5 stars Unapologetic, experimental, interesting
First of all, I loved how this film was wholly unapologetic. It feels like the work of someone who's done what they wanted, without compromise. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Niklas Pivic
5.0 out of 5 stars Rule of Thirds
In photography and cinematography there is something called the 'Rule of Thirds'. Wherein the camera operator visually breaks the frame up into THREE parts. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Artprof67
5.0 out of 5 stars Sweetie is Sweet.
I had a older copy of this movie and was so happy to see that it is now in the criterion collection. This is such a unique movie, well acted and beautifully filmed. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Michael Rousselle
4.0 out of 5 stars Jane Campion's Breakthrough Film Gets The Criterion Treatment
If you're a fan of independent cinema, at first glance Jane Campion's "Sweetie" may feel like a film you've seen many times before - a quirky, deadpan comedy about a dysfunctional... Read more
Published on February 29, 2012 by Z. E. Lowell
4.0 out of 5 stars Black, black, black humor.
Sweetie (Jane Campion, 1989)/Passionless Moments (Jane Campion, 1983)

Sweetie is the type of comedy I would write if I wrote comedies-- relentlessly black, full of... Read more
Published on April 1, 2008 by Robert Beveridge
2.0 out of 5 stars A story about a mentally ill woman
This review is for the Criterion Collection DVD edition of the film.

Sweetie, written and directed by award winning filmmaker, Jane Campion best known for the film "The... Read more
Published on October 29, 2006 by Ted
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