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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and moving film
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...
Published on 17 April 2006 by David Welsh

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars They don't come harder hitting than this
The plot of 'Sweet Sixteen' is pure Loach; a no-holds-barred account of the hardships faced by protagonist Liam as he tries to get by in Greenock, Scotland while his Mum is in jail and her boyfriend shows nothing but disdain for him. As usual, Loach portrays the situation with his trademark candour and succeeds in uniting the audience behind Liam despite the ever...
Published on 7 April 2003 by james_wiltshire


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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dark and moving film, 17 April 2006
By 
David Welsh (Oslo, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] [2002] (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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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loach-tastic. Brilliant., 20 Aug. 2006
This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] [2002] (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. There's a sense of foreboding througout the film, as you can just tell that Liam is going to screw up in a big way. Still, if you're not averse to a little depression, you owe it to yourself to see this movie. I didn't always like what I was seeing, but I was glued to the screen just the same.

Excellent.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an amazing film,please watch it !, 31 Jan. 2008
By 
This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] (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
4.0 out of 5 stars Loah on form, 5 Feb. 2006
This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] [2002] (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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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A depressing story that needs to be told, 21 Feb. 2005
By 
Barry Lees (Greenock, Strathclyde Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loach's youth movie, 13 April 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] [2002] (DVD)
In contrast to most other Loach movies I have seen, Sweet Sixteen (as the title very well suggests) deals with youth. Even though it is social critique at its best and thus does not portray the brightest sides of life, its dark tone is sometimes made actually much worse by the fact that it has a 15-year old in the focus. Sometimes Liams youthfulness and optimism (yes, in my opinion, he does not lose faith in better future at least until the end titles) makes you forget that everything that looks/seems bright is disturbingly crime-connected.
Unlike most of the drug-related movies, it concentrates on the non-user smalldealer, and the seeming unavailability of options between lawful and unlawful 'career'.
Overall, I think the movie is one of Loach's best. It still has the documentaristic touch, but the strong and moving story plus the Scottish setting make it somewhat more 'artistic'. I think the English subtitles to Scottish accent on DVD are really useful. Actually, during the starting minutes I even thought that they were not speaking English at all, but that can also be partially due to the fact that I'm no native speaker either.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sweet Sixteen, 18 Mar. 2005
The title of this film is deceptive. The words 'sweet sixteen' conjure up images of America, birthdays, innocence- this film is about as far removed from all that as you can go.
Sweet Sixteen is set in Glasgow, and centres around 15 year old Liam (Martin Compston) whose mother is in prison serving time for her abusive, drug dealer boyfriend, Stan. Liam attempts to find a safe haven for them both, away from Stan, but must first try and raise the cash. He enlists the help of his friends and finds himself part of a new and dangerous world. He quickly becomes out of his depth, but he just can't let it go.
Ken Loach has created a gritty and powerful drama about the loss of innocence and the lengths that Liam will go to to help his family.
I would highly recommend this film- the characters speak in thick Glaswegian accents, but there are subtitles throughout the entire film. There is also quite a lot of strong language, but don't let that put you off.
Sweet Sixteen is an excellent film that won't fail to move you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Typical Loach - Beautiful!, 6 Nov. 2014
By 
Amazon Customer (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] (DVD)
You have to hand it to Ken Loach, his films are like no other, and he always captures a moving tale brilliantly, with plenty of grit and black humour. 'Sweet Sixteen' hit the cinemas in 2002, and became a critically acclaimed success.

The film centres around Liam (Martin Compston in his debut), a typical teenage Scottish lad from a tough working class background, who is determined to have a normal family life once his mother gets out of prison. He sets out to raise the money for a home in a quiet village, but needs the money to do it. Crazy schemes lead to trouble, and Liam finds himself dangerously out of his depth, digging a hole he just can't get out of. We as the viewer feel for him, and it is largely due to Martin's strong acting, and Loach's faultless portrayal of the bleak life people in poverty face.

When you watch a Ken Loach film, you can imagine everything that is taking place on the screen as being true, like viewing a documentary, because his movies are so realistic. 'Sweet Sixteen' is a great little film, depressing, moving, and one you'll want to see again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a tough film, but has integrity, 1 April 2015
By 
schumann_bg - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] (DVD)
SPOILERS! ONLY READ IF YOU"VE SEEN THE FILM

Sweet Sixteen is a very good film, certainly, and one that presents a remarkably evenhanded view of 15-year-old Liam. By the end he has done some terrible things, the precise extent of which remains vague; however it is clear that he is not, at heart, a bad person. I did wonder whether Ken Loach hasn't made him fit too wide a character description, in fact, as if he has been pieced together identikit-style, to suit the plot. At the party for his mother he seems to have completely put his recent action out of his mind, and his affection for his sister and mother seems to jar with the hardheartedness he shows at other times. The first alert to this comes when he is prepared to kill a man in a toilet just because he has been told to. The blame is fundamentally on those who put him up to it, of course, but nevertheless he is pretty blameworthy as well. Of course we see examples of this kind of thing in the media all the time, and worse; but here it works against the empathy we may otherwise feel. Perhaps this is a good thing, but it makes for a very grim picture. The final shot of Liam on the beach is surely a homage to Truffaut's The 400 Blows, but here his feet are stuck in mud, and he certainly isn't running, his copybook has been so blotted. It could also be compared to Loach's own Kes from over 30 years before; Liam may only be a year older, but the moral ills are altogether of a different order. Perhaps this is a reflection of the change in society in that time. At all events, it is a tough film, and doesn't have the poetry of the earlier work. There is nothing to set against the awful succession of events we witness, except for the appeal of youth itself, which is so distorted by these events as to be completely of no consequence. Having said that, Martin Compston is outstanding as the lead as is Annmarie Fulton as his sister and William Ruane as his friend Pinball - the difference between the two is painfully shown in a way that cannot fail to disturb the viewer.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a stunning film, 1 Jan. 2015
By 
hillbank68 "almac1975" (Fife, Scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Sweet Sixteen [DVD] (DVD)
This is a terrific film. Liam, almost 16, lives in Greenock. His father is a drug dealer, his mother is in prison and he and his sister Chantelle, with whom he is very close, have spent some of their childhood in a children's home. His mum is due out soon and his dearest wish is to stay with her and get some stability and - though he might not express it in this way - love into his life. He is quick-witted and fearless (partly a consequence of caring little for himself and therefore accepting pain and punishment when they come along) and finds ingenious but dangerous ways of achieving his goals, with some success. But there is a feeling throughout that his best efforts are doomed - the odds are just stacked too heavily against him. We feel for him, and for Chantelle and her little son Callum, but the narrative plays itself out inexorably and convincingly to an unhappy conclusion.

Filmed on location in Greenock. the film has the ring of truth. It is extremely gritty and the dialogue, which never sounds less than real, is heavily peppered with expletives. In Martin Compston, who plays Liam, it has an extraordinary talent who has made a highly successful career for himself since this, his debut, but the cast is uniformly strong. In places it is funny, but the overall impression is of struggle - not hopelessness ; the characters are too resourceful for that - but certainly of a deadening environment from which escape is difficult, if perhaps not impossible. It grips you, it is very good cinema ; it is Ken Loach at his best.
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Sweet Sixteen [DVD]
Sweet Sixteen [DVD] by Ken Loach (DVD - 2007)
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