koch on film

“Sweet Sixteen” (+)

This is a superb movie about a 16-year-old Scottish youth by the name of Liam (Martin Compston, who was 19 when he made the film.) The maturity that this kid displays in the film can be attributed to the poverty and societal problems Liam and his friends face every day.

Liam has no nuclear family. He lives with Stan (Gary McCormack) a drug dealer and his mother’s live-in lover. His mum Jean (Michelle Coulter) is in prison for a crime that is never identified but is probably drug possession. Liam’s sister Chantelle (Annmarie Fulton) is a single mother living on her own with her infant son. Liam’s closest friend, Pinball (William Ruane), is not as clever as Liam, and he places Liam in a terrible situation where Liam must contemplate killing Pinball. Organized crime is present and Liam eventually becomes a part of the local drug ring.

The plot and characters could easily be transferred to any minority, poverty community in the United States, e.g. Harlem, New York, or South Central Los Angeles, except for the accents which are so strong that English subtitles are used.

Through it all, Liam’s love for his mother dominates his life. Regrettably, that is not enough for a happy ending. Interestingly, while the script and acting are superb, I was never emotionally involved but rather clinically interested in what was happening. My eyes never left the screen. I didn’t want to miss a single word of dialogue.


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