0

Director Ken Loach has worked with Glaswegian lawyer-turned-writer Paul Laverty quite a bit in recent years, on Carla?s Song, My Name is Joe, Bread & Roses, on Loach?s segment in 11?09?01 and now on Sweet Sixteen. The future isn?t very bright for 15-year-old Liam, a Glasgow boy whose mother is in prison. Liam, Martin Compston, lives with his stepfather and his grandfather, who are both involved in the drug trade. When he refuses to smuggle a stash into the prison for his mother to sell, they beat him and he leaves home to live with his sister, Chantelle, Annmarie Fulton, a single mother who loves her little brother. Liam and his unstable mate, Pinball, William Ruane, manage to steal some of his stepfather's drugs; it's a chance to make money, but a dangerous one. Ken Loach is one of the great heroes of British cinema. Since the mid 60s he's been making films about the working class he knows and loves, he's always been true to himself and to his characters, he's always stood up bravely for what he believes in. Only once before, in Kes back in 1969, was a child the subject of one of his films, and the ironically titled Sweet Sixteen depicts a very sad, grim contemporary reality where the lives of the unemployed working-class poor are fraught with danger on top of everything else. Loach uses non-professional actors, and Martin Compston is simply amazing as the resourceful Liam who dreams of a better life with the mother he loves. He may remind you of the hero of Francois Truffaut's for the optimism he displays in the face of the most terrible setbacks. The English-sub-titles are helpful to translate the strong Glasgow accents in this painfully honest, tremendously powerful, film; it's one of Loach's finest achievements.