Sweetie (1989)



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Movie Info

Jane Campion's first film, Sweetie, is the bizarre story about two sisters, Kay (Karen Colston) and Sweetie (Genevieve Lemon). At the beginning of the film, Kay is tentatively beginning an affair with a young man, when Sweetie---her mentally disturbed, overweight and demanding sister--re-enters her and her family's lives, throwing everything into turmoil. Campion's camera work is original and off-kilter, often recalling the style of David Lynch. And, much like Lynch, Campion's story is odd and disconcerting, and won't necessarily appeal to all tastes.

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Geneviève Lemon
as Dawn/Sweetie
Tom Lycos
as Louis
Jean Hadgraft
as Mrs. Schneller
Paul Livingston
as Teddy Schneller
Norman Phillips
as Nosy Neighbor
Sean Fennell
as Boy clerk
Charles Abbott
as Meditation teacher
Barbara Middleton
as Clayton's Mum
Emma Fowler
as Little Sweetie
Ken Porter
as Lead Jakaroo
Warren Hensley
as Man handshaker
Doug Ramsey
as Sweetie's Funeral Attendee
Gerard Lee
as Lead Jackaroo
Shirley Sheppard
as Nosy Neighbor
Ben Cochrane
as Boy in Tree
Larry Brand
as Sweetie's Funeral
Cedric McLaughlan
as Sweetie's Funeral
Bruce Currie
as Man with Saw
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Critic Reviews for Sweetie

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (2)

It's hard to sum up Sweetie, which happens to be one of the movie's strengths.

Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…

"Sweetie" is a film about people who can't cope with their emotions ... who don't know how to let each other in and will likely never figure it out. It is not an easy watch.

Oct 23, 2018 | Full Review…

'Sweetie' is a rich black comedy told in dominant chords. When it resolves to minor, you can't help but be swept away.

Jun 16, 2017 | Rating: A+ | Full Review…

Jane Camion's stunning feature debut is a bold and audacious dark comedy about sexual politics and dysfunctional family relations.

Dec 27, 2011 | Rating: A- | Full Review…

...a highly visual domestic horror film, a sui generis experience

May 15, 2011 | Rating: 89/100

[Jane Campion's] first full-fledged, no-doubt-about-it, stone-cold masterpiece.

Aug 11, 2009 | Rating: 9/10 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Sweetie

The first film from Jane Campion and what a romp it is! Many have attempted the family dysfunction film and while there are many other attempts worth notint, Campion proves very early on in her career that she is up for the tastk.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


Jane Campion's style is never going to woo the masses with broad appeal, but that's part of what makes her such a dynamic film maker. Sweetie is an odd bit of cinema that is both sentimental and detached. A quirky and imaginative motion picture.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

A difficult and somewhat disturbing film that explores the troubled relationship between two very different sisters. Dawn (Genevieve Lemon), known to her family as Sweetie, is a blowzy, overweight woman with serious mental health issues and delusions of grandeur who shows up at her sister's with a producer/boyfriend in tow. Kay (Karen Colston) is the other sister, a shy, socially awkward young woman who has managed to snare a steady boyfriend in the handsome Louis (Tom Lycos). Their father (Michael Lake) moves in as well, when his wife, the girls' mother, leaves him, further complicating the living arrangements. The story seemed a bit disjointed at times, with unexplained gaps making it difficult to piece together the narrative into a coherent whole. But, it is director Campion's first feature film, with a limited budget, and shows the promise of her later films. As an audience, we are inexorably drawn into the downward spiral as this fragile family unit fractures and falls apart. Lemon and Colston were totally believable as the sisters caught in a love-hate relationship, and completely unable to relate to each other beyond a most juvenile level. And Lake was spot-on as the father so blinded by his love for his daughter that e could not see how truly damaged she was. Campion has proved herself a master at depicting the family dynamic in tortured situations, and this film is part of that legacy.

Mark Abell
Mark Abell

Super Reviewer

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