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Liam is a young, restless teen struggling to realize his dream in the gritty and dismal streets of Greenock, where unemployment is rampant and little hope is available to the city's youth. He is waiting for the release of his mother, Jean, from prison where she is completing a prison term for a crime that her boyfriend actually committed. Her boyfriend, Stan, is a crude and obnoxious drug pusher is partnered by Liam's equally rough and foul-mouthed, mean-spirited grandfather. Liam is determined to rescue his mother from both of them, which means creating a safe haven beyond their reach. But first he's got to raise the cash--no small feat for a young man It's not long before Liam and his pals' crazy schemes lead them into all sorts of trouble. Finding himself dangerously out of his depth, Liam knows he should walk away. Only this time, he just can't let go. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
The film sparked a censorship debate in the UK regarding the amount of bad language used. Under current British Board of Film Classification rules, multiple uses of the word "fuck" usually only warrant a 15-certificate, but even a single aggressive use of the word "cunt" tends to lead to an 18-certificate, as was the case with Sweet Sixteen. It was argued, however, that this would prevent the people who could most closely identify with the characters in the film from going to see it, and that such language was much more commonly used, and therefore less offensive, in the north of the UK, where the film was set. The London based censors, however, stuck to their guns, although the local authority who cover the area where the film was shot, Inverclyde, utilized their cinema licensing powers to overrule this, and awarded the film a 15-certificate for screenings in their area. See more »
Winning awards and nominations at Cannes, Sweet Sixteen continues director Ken Loach's devotion to social awareness. After using film that directly affected legislative reform (Cathy Come Home) in 1965, his work has spanned the globe and a wide variety of social ills and with very varying fortunes in marketability. Sweet Sixteen looks at adolescent delinquency and the difficulties faced by youths who try desperately to escape the downward spiral that ruins their lives forever. The script, in broad Scots dialect, has an urgency and reality to it. The young actors come mostly from the deprived areas of Western Scotland where the film is set, many of them first-timers and of an age where they would not legally be admitted to the film. The scriptwriter bitterly attacked the BBFC over its 18' certificate decision, which was based mostly on the aggressive use of strong language. Meanwhile, English distributors looked at the use of subtitles to help adults south of the border cope.
The story follows 15-year old Liam (played by 17-yr old football player Martin Compston) as a youth who is determined to have a normal family life once his mother gets out of prison. The drug-dealing boyfriend of his mother and his empty-headed companion Pinball', do little to make his quest easier. He opts for means to an end' a simple enough mistake we feel for a young boy in his circumstances. The consequences, of course, are told with shocking realism. Will the film have the sort of impact that Cathy Come Home' had on homeless laws, and mean more attention is given to real support for youths in disadvantaged areas, rather than simply throwing money at the unwinnable war against drug dealing? The long list of agencies thanked in the closing credits shows how the people in the know pin their hopes on Loach one of Britain's finest and conscience-filled directors and one of our most ignored.
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