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Sweet Sixteen (2002)

For a young man from a tough family, growing up can be a rough journey

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 102 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


Martin Compston plays Liam, a young lad who lives in the estates of Greenock in Scotland. Part of a dysfunctional family, his mother is in jail and he lives with his mother's boyfriend and his grandfather, both rough troublemakers. As his mother's release and his 16th birthday approach, he dreams of a better life with his mother in a caravan away from the trouble. However, to make it happen, first he must raise the money.

In pursuit of his dream life, Liam and his friends get involved in ever more risky money-making schemes that put him in increasing danger and entangle him with some of the people who carry out the violence and crime in the area. Resistant at first, Liam finds a distorted strength within himself to sink to new depths if it will achieve his goal. Drawn in to the violence, finally he can no longer avoid the life to which he was born and which he has tried so hard to escape

This is a fine film that very much deserves its place in the small but significant group of outstanding British films that has attracted a wider audience. Newcomer Martin Compston is outstanding and makes quite a mark on his debut, although only time will tell if he is able to sustain this in future films. Ken Loach produces a gritty, realistic tale of life on a dismal Scottish estate, and exposes the soft side of the hard youngsters who live there without diverging from the harsh reality of their lives. The characters are sympathetic and likeable, even while being genuinely rough and intimidating. The film is full of truth and, much as one would wish to do otherwise, Loach forces the viewer to acknowledge it.

It's Got: A truly outstanding performance from young newcomer Martin Compston.

It Needs: Viewers prepared to concentrate to understand the thick regional accents.

DVD Extras A decent collection of extras for this small British film. Extras: Director’s commentary, Sweet Success – BBC documentary, Outtakes, TV spot, Theatrical trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10


An outstanding, touching, gritty and emotional film full of harsh reality that truly deserves the accolades it has received. Well worth making the time to see.