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Sweet Sixteen (2002)



Average Rating: 7.9/10
Reviews Counted: 87
Fresh: 84 | Rotten: 3

A bleak, but heartbreaking coming-of-age tale that resonates with truth.


Average Rating: 7.8/10
Critic Reviews: 30
Fresh: 30 | Rotten: 0

A bleak, but heartbreaking coming-of-age tale that resonates with truth.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 7,738

My Rating

Movie Info

Paul Laverty writes his fourth script with director Ken Loach for the gritty coming-of-age drama Sweet Sixteen. Set in the port city of Greenock, Scotland, local kid Liam (Martin Compston) spends his days trying to make money with his best friend, Pinball (William Ruane). When he refuses to use his imprisoned mother, Jean (Michelle Coulter), as a drug mule, his criminal stepfather, Stan (Gary McCormack), and bitter grandfather, Rab (Tommy McKee), kick him out of the house. He moves in with his



Paul Laverty

Oct 7, 2003


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All Critics (96) | Top Critics (32) | Fresh (84) | Rotten (3) | DVD (9)

Using mostly unknown and first-time actors, Loach spins a passable coming-of-age tale, which should please his fans and provides a diversion for the rest of us.

August 7, 2003
Arizona Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Despite this film's title, don't expect something light and fluffy.

June 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

From its gripping immediacy to its strong cast of unknowns, Sweet Sixteen feels almost like a documentary. Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty keep an evenhanded focus on harsh truths, and avoid melodrama and grandstanding.

June 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

There's a profane but strangely tender rawness to this sometimes brutal movie, anchored by Compston's remarkably assured debut performance.

June 20, 2003 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
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A raw movie, but it relies on the natural appeal of its main character and the skill with which Loach creates a thoroughly believable environment.

June 20, 2003
Denver Rocky Mountain News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The film is so alive, the performances so urgent and convincing, that it's as if Loach had just discovered the subject matter.

June 13, 2003
Seattle Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...a better-than-average slice-of-life kitchen-sink drama that benefits substantially from Compston's star-making performance.

January 18, 2013 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

Under Loach's deft hand, it feels indisputably real ... An undeniable downer, but hellaciously well acted, brimming with compassion, and relevant in a way that doesn't chafe.

January 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Portland Mercury

Hollywood has manufactured a number of coming of age films of varying quality, yet it's difficult to think of one that tops this powerful character study

December 11, 2004 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews

You want Liam to succeed. You want a happy ending. You want to try to understand the heavy Scottish accents without reading the subtitles mercifully provided by Loach.

April 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Las Vegas CityLife

Another fine Loach film that refuses to sentimentalize the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Compston is a real find.

January 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Cinemania

The story is extremely powerful. This is a very depressing film, but also very well crafted.

January 12, 2004 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Its bleak tale was lightly delivered and filled with a wry Scottish wit and a poignant social realism that rang true.

October 26, 2003 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Sweet Sixteen is a wonderfully bittersweet effort, and one of Loach's best works.

October 8, 2003 Full Review Source:

Loach tends to get a little preachy, but his skill is undeniable. His messages strike harsh and true.

August 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
Arizona Daily Star

There are some terrific performances. Scottish TV star Compston makes Liam quite sympathetic; despite his character's many failings, you want the best for him and his family.

July 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Deseret News, Salt Lake City
Deseret News, Salt Lake City

The combination of its casual violence, its street sense and a loose cinematography makes the film feel like a documentary.

July 18, 2003 Full Review Source: Des Moines Register
Des Moines Register

Heartbreaking but ruthlessly honest, a mirror held up to contemporary life.

July 11, 2003 Full Review Source: Kansas City Star
Kansas City Star

Don't get too close; don't help out; let them make their own mistakes

June 25, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

It may be Loach's saddest film.

June 20, 2003 Full Review Source: St. Paul Pioneer Press
St. Paul Pioneer Press

[Liam's] bleak story is a compelling one, but more tiring than inspiring.

June 20, 2003 Full Review Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Audience Reviews for Sweet Sixteen

Sweet Sixteen. Sounds like a chick flick (nothing wrong if you like that genre; it's just that I'm not into that kind of movies in general). Now, the title itself is enough to prompt me to click on 'NOT INTERESTED'. (Off topic, but Shakespeare didn't know shit when he coined "What's in name?") But when it came as a recommendation from one of the friends here (by mvieaddict, to be specific), & the review (which I fortunately didn't read fully. She's given away how it ends. I know it's predictable, but still.) mentioned that it's a crime related movie, I was inclined to check it out. And having just watched it, I'm glad I did.

It's not 'American History X', but it's close to that. It's relatively realistic & way better than most of the crime dramas I've recently seen. It has some truly great intense moments. It's not a tearjerker, but the way the relations are portrayed is quite touching. It made me care for the protagonist even after knowing that what he's doing is quite unethical. That's where the movie scored for me, because generally I don't get that kind of a feeling for such characters (or the characters I can't relate to).

It takes a sneak peek into the life of a boy who wants to lead a sound life with his mom who's currently serving time in jail. But that's not not quite easy. He resorts to crime to make his dreams come true. And pieces start falling in their place for him. But alas... well, you already know what kind of ending you're supposed to expect with this type of movies. I'd not give away what exactly it is, just in case (yep, of late, I've decided not to give out big spoilers as far as possible).

The actors were all new faces to me, but everyone performed well. The movie wouldn't have been so effective otherwise. Surely recommended.

EDIT: Just because someone asked, I felt I should clarify it once & for all. I mentioned 'American History X' because the movie reminded me of it while watching it. There's not much resemblance between the two. When I said "it's close to that," I meant in terms of greatness, & not plot-wise. So there.
July 29, 2010

Super Reviewer

Tragic tale of a boy trying to pull himself and his family out of a grim world but struggling not to get sucked back. Stinging indictment of a class of society whose only goal is survival and morals are cheap. The ending will blow you away.
August 17, 2007
Gordon A

Super Reviewer

Ken Loach's movies are known for their intensity of showing the society differences of the British class. I saw that in Bread & Roses, Carla's song and AE fond kiss, but Sweet Sixteen was more dramatic and emotional. Here the director portrayed some sad lives going into violence and crime and the way he presented the bad situations of these people were just memorable. Liam the lead character, a 15 year old boy who life had treated very hard, was selling heroine cigarettes on the street, who he had stolen from his mother's boyfriend. Liam's older sister Chantelle, who hated her mother,for being a heroine junkie and in prison was a very touching part of the story.The mother, for whom all the effort was done for her to keep her straight, got a nice house from Liam ,which he bought of drugs money.But when she got out prison she remained the disappointment she always was, and gave this movie a dramatic ending.
July 26, 2010
Daisy Maduro

Super Reviewer

Such a dark movie but it's good and the acting is good for amateurs.
April 12, 2009

Super Reviewer

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