Sweet Sixteen


Sweet Sixteen

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 88


Audience Score

User Ratings: 8,044
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Movie Info

Ken Loach directs Sweet Sixteen, a gritty drama about a young man slowly succumbing to a life of crime. Liam (Martin Compson) hopes that his imprisoned mother (Michelle Coulter) will be free by his 16th birthday. Hoping to help his mother escape her abusive heroin-dealing boyfriend (Gary McCormack), Liam rats him out to the cops. Liam's sister, Chantelle (Annmarie Fulton), suggests that a new trailer park might be a better place for their mother to live. With the help of his best friend, Pinball (William Ruanne), Liam sells the boyfriend's supply in order to raise the money, but this gets him into trouble with gangsters whose turf he was selling in. Soon Liam is on the way up in the criminal world, but that success comes with a toll. The accents in this Scottish-set film are so thick that English subtitles are used throughout. Sweet Sixteen was screened in competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

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Critic Reviews for Sweet Sixteen

All Critics (88) | Top Critics (31) | Fresh (85) | Rotten (3)

  • 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.

    Aug 7, 2003 | Rating: 3/5
  • Despite this film's title, don't expect something light and fluffy.

    Jun 27, 2003 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 27, 2003 | Rating: B+
  • There's a profane but strangely tender rawness to this sometimes brutal movie, anchored by Compston's remarkably assured debut performance.

    Jun 20, 2003 | Rating: 3/4
  • 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.

    Jun 20, 2003 | Rating: B+
  • The film is so alive, the performances so urgent and convincing, that it's as if Loach had just discovered the subject matter.

    Jun 13, 2003 | Rating: 3.5/4

Audience Reviews for Sweet Sixteen

  • Jul 28, 2010
    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.
    familiar s Super Reviewer
  • Jan 30, 2009
    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.
    Daisy M Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2008
    Such a dark movie but it's good and the acting is good for amateurs.
    Sunil J Super Reviewer
  • May 23, 2008
    I've never heard the "C" word so much in my life! Even so, my heart went out to this 15 yr old Scottish boy in Sweet Sixteen. His mom is due to be released from prison the day before his sixteenth birthday. He's doing everything he can to make a home for his family. Not much available for a young lad except crime. This movie had me interested until 3/4 the way through...then it disconnected from the audience somewhat.
    Deb S Super Reviewer

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