Sweet Sixteen

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'Sweet Sixteen' – Directed by Ken Loach
There is a strong sense of documentary about'Sweet Sixteen'.You can't help feeling that what you're watching being played out on screen is simultaneously being played out on thousands of council estates throughout the country.
The film's director Ken Loach has provided a forum for the issues of social and economic poverty before.His approach in this film is neither ground-breaking nor innovative, but what he does achieve in'Sweet Sixteen' is something far greater.He actually makes us care. Many, indeed most, may be bored with the issue but the characters surpass the cliche and hold the attention of the audience.They are the'everyday Joes' of societies' underclass, as recognisable off screen as on.Fortunately, however, they exist not just as symbolic but as well-rounded 3-dimensional characters.Society may well have created thousands upon thousands of'Liams' but we want this one to be different.
The dreary urbanised setting of a Scottish council estate and the indistinguishable Greenock brogue serve to localise concepts that are essentially universal.The perpetuation of the social cycle is at the heart of the underlying social commentary we have come to expect from Loach.Remaining true to the form of his previous films Loach with his screenwriter Paul Laverty confront the issue at hand with a gritty realism, void of the patronising sympathies that often come hand in hand with a film of this nature.
A great strength in'Sweet Sixteen' is the performance of'non-actor' Martin Compston as Liam.Compston shows great promise as the films pathetic hero, capturing with great sensitivity the intelligence and affection which endear us to the otherwise hopeless character.The continual frustration of Liam's dreams is at times heart-rendering. Liam turns to crime becau…