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New Cinema

Sweet Thing is one of the most powerful new films I’ve seen in years. The whole film has soul.”

Quentin Tarantino

American indie fixture Alexandre Rockwell (In the Soup, 13 Moons) has garnered renewed acclaim for his latest gem of minor-key moviemaking, a tender coming-of-age drama starring the writer-director’s wife and kids. Winner of the Crystal Bear in Berlin’s Generation Kplus program, Sweet Thing takes its name from Van Morrison’s eponymous Astral Weeks track, which 15-year-old Billie (riveting newcomer Lana Rockwell) sings to soothe her alcoholic father Adam (Will Patton), a barely employable divorcee, and her little brother Nico (Nico Rockwell). When Adam’s booze-fueled behaviour lands him in rehab, Billie and Nico are sent to live with their semi-estranged mother (Karyn Parsons, of Fresh Prince fame) and her predatory boyfriend, whose fits of abuse precipitate an escape for the young siblings with the aid of their new neighbour, a hard-knock teen. Shot (mostly) on black-and-white 16mm and punctuated by deft touches of anachronism—iris in/​out transitions; nary a trace of modern technology—Sweet Thing offers an earnest, if somewhat familiar, tale of adolescent runaways searching for solid ground.

A soulful, uplifting, but also heartbreaking look at race and poverty’s impact on troubled childhood … A welcome return to form for the accomplished indie filmmaker.”

Travis Hopson, RogerEbert.com

A lively, bittersweet meditation on an impoverished childhood that is still rich in innocence and imagination … Sweet Thing boasts beautiful performances and a definite throwback charm.”

Jessica Kiang, Variety
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