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New Zealand auteur Jane Campion broke the ice with a cheeky transgressive familial comedy whose dark thematic import announces itself only at the film’s end. The result is a sucker punch of methodical storytelling. Coincidentally, the movie presaged Mike Leigh’s similarly titled and themed debut picture “Life Is Sweet.”
Campion pulls you in to an emotional rip tide. Neurotic Kay steals her man Lou (played by Tom Lycos) from another woman by seducing him in a car park. Kay’s libido subsides after the escaped couple set up house together with Kay’s (seemingly) bi-polar sister Dawn, a.k.a. ’Sweetie,’ (Geneviève Lemon) moves in with her new (lowlife) ‘talent manager.’
Precise depictions of off-kilter character habits touch on an undercurrent of sexual abuse in a film that never hits a single theme line on the head. ‘Sweetie’ is a rich black comedy told in dominant chords. When it resolves to minor, you can’t help but be swept away.
Rated R. 97 mins.
Mike picked SCULPIN IPA from BALLAST POINT to accompany our discussion of Jane Campion's debut feature 'Sweetie.'