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Sweet Sixteen [VHS]

59 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Martin Compston, William Ruane, Annmarie Fulton, Michelle Abercromby, Michelle Coulter
  • Directors: Ken Loach
  • Producers: Rebecca O'Brien
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: 7 April 2003
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008IAS7
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 399,381 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

Ken Loach directs this raw and gritty coming-of-age drama set in Greenock, Scotland, where unemployment is high and drugs are rife. Liam (Martin Compston) is a young, restless teenager, who hangs around the streets with best mate Pinball (William Ruane) and waits for the release from jail of his mother, Jean (Michelle Coulter), who is serving time for a crime actually committed by her drug dealer boyfriend, Stan (Gary McCormack). When Liam refuses to help Stan out with his latest consignment of drugs, he ends up being kicked out of his own house, and moves in with his older sister, single mum Chantelle (Annmarie Fulton). He decides to find a way out of Stan's violent clutches for himself and his mother when she is released, and in his determination to raise the cash to buy a caravan for them to live in, he comes up with a plan to steal Stan's stash and sell it to local junkies. As his sixteenth birthday approaches, Liam ironically finds himself ending up embroiled in the very life of crime he had struggled to avoid.

From Amazon.co.uk

Released in 2002, Sweet Sixteen represents Ken Loach's finest and most successful work in years. Set in Greenock, a small Glaswegian suburb whose magnificent surrounding landscape contrasts with the urban deprivation of its grey streets and tenements, it tells the story of 15-year-old Liam (Martin Compston), an entrepreneurial young scamp who flogs knocked-off cigarettes in pubs with his best mate Pinball. However, determined to wean his imprisoned mother off her drug-dealing boyfriend Stan, he graduates to selling hard drugs for big-time gangster Tony. He's unscrupulous yet selfless, happy to resort to crime to create a new life for his mum and reunite her with his older sister Chantelle. But reality will sorely test his naive illusions.

Sweet Sixteen, scripted by Paul Laverty, is quintessential Loach, exciting tremendous sympathy for a character whom in real life you might distantly regard as a contemptible scumbag, without romanticising either him or his lifestyle and upbringing. Yet there's real and touching pathos in his deep-seated need to restore his fractured, domestic background: touchingly and pathetically he regards the tiny £6,000 riverside caravan he's earmarked for his mum as "paradise". By the end of the movie, you truly want to hug the poor knife-wielding smack dealer. The cast of (mostly) unknowns all turn in sterling, authentic performances but Martin Compston rightly took plaudits for his unaffected, deeply engaging portrayal of Liam.

On the DVD: Sweet Sixteen on disc offers numerous extras. Subtitles including English may prove necessary even for English speakers to cut through the foggy Glaswegian accents. In the commentary, Loach slams the British Board of Film Censors for their "ludicrous" decision to award the film an 18 certificate. Meanwhile, a short documentary, Sweet Success, reflects on how the film wowed Cannes and the impact it's had on the life of its star, the 17-year-old plucked from obscurity in a mass audition who gave up a promising career as a professional footballer to take up acting instead. --David Stubbs --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By David Welsh on 17 April 2006
Format: DVD
A dark and harrowing film which follows an optimistic teenager in the drug-infested culture of the housing estates in Greenock in the West of Scotland. Liam wants to make a better life for himself, and his mother when she is released from prison, but to do that he needs money... His ambition and naivety quickly lead him out of his depth, but his vision that things really could be better means that he can't back away. Powerful stuff, and definitely worth watching - especially for the outstanding début performance by Martin Compston as Liam.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Ray Cyrus on 20 Aug. 2006
Format: DVD
Despite its title, "Sweet Sixteen" is one decidedly sour film. This movie isn't based on an Irvine Welsh novel, but with its gritty examination of tough Scottish street life, it might as well be. The movie centers around a fatherless high-school dropout who expects his family to become whole again when his mother finally gets out of prison. In the role of the teenaged protagonist Liam, Martin Compston turns in a brilliant performance that belies his youth. In the opening scene, we see what kind of situation Liam is dealing with: going to visit his mother in prison, her slimy father and her even slimier boyfriend Stan want Liam to pass her drugs to hook up her fellow inmates so that Stan can make a killing off their boyfriends. And when Liam refuses to do it, he winds up getting the hell beaten out of him by the side of the road. This is obviously a kid who's had the odds stacked against him from the beginning.

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.

Although it does have its moments of humor, "Sweet Sixteen" is mostly a down note right until the bitter end.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Laetitia Roy on 31 Jan. 2008
Format: DVD
I am astonished I'm the first person to post a review on this masterpiece ! I'm french an in my country, Ken Loach is admired as the great film maker he truly is. And in my point of view, this film is perhaps his best, because even if you disagree with his political view, you will be deeply moved by the principal character. Great plot, great actors, it is human, complex, beautiful and captivating. Please watch it. Vive Ken Loach.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Peter Carr on 5 Feb. 2006
Format: DVD
Good to see Ken Loach back on form.Sweet Sixteen comes across as if it was documentary....a Loach hallmark.It is nonetheless a carefully crafted tragedy with its inevitable relentless progress to the tagic climax of a wasted life.
The film pulls few punches either with the authenticity of the dialect or the sheer despair of the lives it portrays.It is again a la roach a very political film....a seering indictment of the aftermath of the Thatcher years.It is hard to recomend this film as enjoyable entertainment but there is no doubt thaT IT IS AN IMPORTANT AND WONDERFULLY EXECUTED WORK.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Barry Lees on 21 Feb. 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First things first (and this may be important): "Sweet Sixteen" is NOT set in a "Glaswegian suburb" of ANY description. Greenock and Gourock are referred to several times throughout the film. It is set, and filmed, mostly in Greenock - a town at the mouth of the Clyde, 20 miles west of Glasgow. One of the main ironies that I think the film tries to address is that, until about 25 years ago, Greenock had fairly low unemployment. : youths like Liam entered the shipyards or engineering workshops (the town's main employers) after leaving school. Until the Thatcher government arrived on the scene, that is. The Tory economic policy of the time was to use high unemployment as a weapon against the working class to keep costs down, whilst all the time talking about "encouraging entrepreneurial activity". All of the Greenock shipyards closed in the 80s and heroin became the new big business in the run-down towns of west central Scotland.

The "entrepreneurs" in "Sweet Sixteen" are the drugs dealers and they make it quite clear that they wouldn't be so idiotic as to use the stuff themselves. Liam and Pinball think that they can become 'entrepreneurs', just like the local drugs suppliers, but they are only "streetwise", too young and without any sense of the real brutality which the opposition will use without a pang of remorse.

Even though I live in Greenock, it opened my eyes to the 'underclass' that obviously permeates our society. A depressing story, but one that had to be told.

[Based on a viewing of the film on tv, I will certainly buy the dvd. When the film was broadcast, it was slated for the intrusive subtitles which, after all, are not provided for the likes of "Coronation Street". I just hope that subtitles are an OPTION on the dvd].
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