Sweet Sixteen (2002 film)
|Directed by||Ken Loach|
|Produced by||Rebecca O'Brien|
|Written by||Paul Laverty|
|Music by||George Fenton|
|Editing by||Jonathan Morris|
Road Movies Filmproduktion
|Distributed by||Icon Film Distribution|
|Running time||106 minutes|
Sweet Sixteen is a 2002 crime drama film directed by Ken Loach. The film tells the story of a teenage boy, Liam, a typical 'ned', who dreams of starting afresh with his mother who is completing a prison term. Liam's attempts to raise money for the two of them are set against the backdrop of Greenock, Port Glasgow and the coast at Gourock.
The film has English subtitles to help viewers better understand Scots language.
In a few weeks, lower class Scottish teenager Liam turns 16; the film opens with him using his tripod mounted telescope outdoors on a clear night to show other children the stars and planets. He and his friends exemplify the violent ned subculture; they no longer attend school, but instead, hang around isolated areas or wander about all day long. They get money by illicitly selling untaxed cigarettes in a pub, and defy the police. Liam's mother is currently in prison, for a crime she did not commit. She will be released in a few weeks, in time for her son's 16th birthday. She also has a boyfriend named Stan, who works together as a drug dealer with Liam's grandfather, Rab.
Stan and Rab take Liam in Rab's car on a visit to his mother in Cornton Vale Prison, and try to force him to smuggle drugs to his mother while they create a distraction. In the event, he refuses to co-operate by passing the drugs over. When driving home they beat him up, he fights back and gets away. Liam arrives back to find that he has been expelled from his grandfather's flat, and his belongings thrown down into the front garden including his telescope which has been broken up. Liam then moves to his sister Chantelle's nearby home in Port Glasgow. Chantelle agrees to let Liam live in her house if he's good for Chantelle's little son, Calum. She has been taking free evening classes to get work in a call centre, and implores Liam to do the same because she wants Liam to do something more 'constructive' with his own life.
When Liam takes Calum for a walk along Greenock Esplanade, his friend Pinball arrives in a stolen car and insists on taking them joyriding along the coast. They drive up through the Cloch caravan park where Liam sees a caravan for sale in an ideal spot overlooking the scenic Firth of Clyde. Liam, who loves his mother very much, wants this caravan so that he, his sister, and his mother can escape to the seaside, away from Stan and Rab's wrath. To purchase it they steal a delivery of drugs from Stan's house and sell them, doing the very things Liam once hated – claiming that they will never go anywhere by selling cheap cigarettes. They soon they develop 'entrepreneur skill' and raise several thousand pounds, which they pay as a deposit to buy the caravan in the name of Liam's mother.
Liam's efforts start to get the attention of the local drug 'godfather'. Liam, who only wanted a peaceful life with his mother, agrees to work with them, after the local godfather tells him to 'stay away from our shops'. Pinball, meanwhile, is put into the health club showers due to his disrespectful manner towards the dealer, and vows revenge. Liam and Pinball carry on selling drugs to the local area, with the help of Liam's other friends who deliver pizzas. Liam and Pinball meet again with members of the drug godfather's gang, and Liam joins them in their car. Pinball is kicked out, angering him further; the gang members advise Liam to 'dump' Pinball for good. They take Liam to a Glasgow nightclub and instruct him that he has to kill someone to join the gang. Liam attempts to do so, but is stopped by the gang, who inform him it was a test (which he has passed).
Liam, Chantelle, Callum and Suzanne (Chantelle's friend) drive to the caravan to have a picnic, only to discover that it's burned down. Liam believes it was Stan who burnt it down, and throws a rock through his window. That evening, Pinball turns up in the drug godfather's car, telling Liam that he wants revenge. He proceeds to crash the car into the health club. Liam speaks to the godfather in the morning – and is ordered to talk to Pinball about what he's done. But Pinball, convinced that Liam is there to kill him, takes Liam's knife and tries to kill Liam and proudly tells him that he's the one who burnt the caravan. Pinball cuts his own face in rage.
The godfather promises to buy Liam an upmarket apartment, and on the day before his birthday Liam's mother is released from the prison and taken to this new house on the coast of Gourock where she is welcomed with a party. Despite this his mother appears uneasy, and the next morning is found to have gone to Stan's house. Liam blames this on Chantelle. Chantelle, now fully aware that Liam is dealing drugs, attempts to warn her little brother about their mother probably not being so thankful for Liam's efforts because she is too devoted to Stan, but this only provokes Liam even further. An enraged Liam goes to Stan's house, trying to convince his mother to get back to their new house, only to get receive insults from Stan. In a struggle, Stan is stabbed by Liam.
Liam is then seen walking alone on the stony beach. He is phoned by Chantelle, who reminds him that the day is his 16th birthday. She also tells him that the police has been looking for him, but that after everything that he has done, Chantelle still loves him. He walks towards the sea.
- Martin Compston as Liam
- Annmarie Fulton as Chantelle
- William Ruane as Pinball
Sweet Sixteen received very positive reviews, currently holding a 97% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes; the consensus states: "A bleak, but heartbreaking coming-of-age tale that resonates with truth."
Sweet Sixteen won the Best Screenplay Award at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.
Criticism of BBFC classification
Use of the word "fuck" (313 times) and "cunt" (about 20 times) led the British Board of Film Classification to forbid the film to viewers under 18. Spain followed this decision, but other countries, like France or Germany (not under 12) had a different rating system. Ken Loach and Paul Laverty protested against the British procedure in the Guardian.
Laverty asserted that this was "censorship" and "class prejudice" because he got a lot of information to write his scenario from people around Scotland, many of whom were not 18, and were therefore denied the opportunity to see the film.