Ken Loach is truely one of the undisputed masters of British film, which has recently lost its way in a sea of rom-com fluff. His previous efforts (such as Kes) are often dark and a little depressing, and Sweet Sixteen continues in this vein, chronicleing the soul-destroying, joy-riding boredom of British adolescents.
Liam is a Scottish kid who goes to visit his junkie mother in jail, but is in fact being used to traffic heroin into the prison. When he refuses to deliver the goods for fear of getting his mum into trouble, he's severely beaten by her boyfriend. Upset and confused, he resolves to make a better life for his mum, but gets closer and closer to a dangerous underworld of drugs and violence.
The screenplay won the Best Screenplay award at Cannes last year, and is brought to life by some outstanding acting. With a cast made up entirely of non-professional actors you'd expect it to stick out like a sore thumb, but it instead gives the story a naturalism you couldn't quite get from an all-star cast. They manage to portray the collection of bored teenagers and their mates in a way that pretty much anyone can, if not empathise with, at least recognise, and make this film into a truly outstanding example of contemporary British film.
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