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Sweet Sixteen (2002 film)
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Sweet Sixteen (2002 film)

Sweet Sixteen is a 2002 film by director Ken Loach. The film tells the story of a working class Scottish teenage boy, Liam (played by Martin Compston), a typical 'ned', who dreams of starting afresh with his mother who is completing a prison term. Liam's attempts to raise money for the two of them are set against the backdrop of Greenock and Port Glasgow.


In a few weeks, Liam is going to be sixteen. He and his friends do not attend school anymore. Instead, they prefer to sell cigarettes and defy the police all day long. They are completely left behind in a society which does little to alleviate the bad situation in which they live. Liam's mother is currently in prison, for a crime she did not commit. She will be released in a few weeks, in time for her son's sixteenth birthday. Liam loves his mother very much and his only goal is to save her from her brutal boyfriend, Stan, who deals drugs with Liam s grandfather.

In order to begin a new life with his mother Jean, Liam starts dealing in drugs with the aim of getting enough money to buy a mobile home in order to escape the wrath of Stan and the grandfather. The drugs he deals in come from Stan, or more precisely, were stolen from him by Liam and his friend, Pinball. They develop "entrepreneurial skills" and make money very fast. Their acumen for the business is soon recognised by the local "godfathers" of drugs. Liam and Pinball are propositioned to work for them. Liam, whose only goal is to live happily with his mother, readily accepts. He becomes what his stepfather is and what he had heretofore despised. When he crosses the line and engages in illegal activities, he thinks that he should simply leave the city. Unfortunately, he cannot do so, even though he is convinced that a better life awaits him.

In the meantime, Chantelle, Liam s sister, tries to take care of her son. She is the only sign of hope in the film. Despite the fact that she became a mother very early (perhaps at the age of sixteen), she tries to improve her own situation and that of her little boy, Calum. She engages in part-time work and implores Liam to do the same because she wants Liam to make something "constructive" of his own life. She also attempts to warn her little brother about their mother probably not being so thankful for Liam s efforts because she is too devoted to Stan. Liam ignores Chantelle's advice because he is so obsessed by the idea that everything will be fine once his mother is released.

As Liam tries to build a new life, he gets more and more in trouble and ends in a seemingly hopeless situation.

Criticism of BBFC classification

Use of the word "fuck" 313 times and "cunt" about 20 times led the British Board of Film Classification to forbid the film to viewers under 18. Spain followed this decision, but other countries, like France or Germany (not under 12) had a different rating system. Ken Loach and Paul Laverty protested against the British procedure in the Guardian.

Paul Laverty asserted that this was "censorship" and "class prejudice" because he got a lot of information to write his scenario from people around Scotland, many of whom were not 18, and were therefore denied the opportunity to see the film.

External links

de:Sweet Sixteen es:Felices diecis is fr:Sweet Sixteen (film) it:Sweet Sixteen (film 2002) ja:SWEET SIXTEEN ru: Film has subtitles in English to better understand the Glaswegian dialect spoken in Glasgow, the largest city in Scotland.

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