Friday, June 18, 2021

Sweet Thing Review: A Bittersweet Look At The Joy And Innocence Of Youth

Release date: June 18, 2021
Running time: 91 minutes
Written and Directed By: Alexandre Rockwell
Starring: Lana Rockwell, Nico Rockwell, Karyn Parsons, Will Patton, Jabari Watkins, ML Josepher, Steven Randazzo

In SWEET THING, Billie (Lana Rockwell), a 15-year-old girl who fantasizes Billie Holiday as a sort of fairy godmother, is forced to navigate the evolving challenges of her life while she plays mother to her 11-year-old brother, Nico (Nico Rockwell`). They soon meet up with another adolescent, run away from home, and together roam the area free from their parents’ watchful gaze.   Discovering freedom and enchantment among New Bedford’s boats and railway tracks, the trio fantasize about a life of luxury when they break into a posh home, and are able to carry the taste of affluence into their adventures. An ode to that trying age when young people prepare to take their first step into adulthood, SWEET THING, starring Rockwell’s children Lana and Nico, Karyn Parsons and Will Patton, is an intense but ultimately uplifting, portrait that captures the essence of that time in life when a day can last forever.

Sweet Thing has style that is instantly noticeable due to the black and white start of the film.  This black and white style stays through most of it, except for little splashes of color that occur at various times.  These generally are during happy memories or emotional scenes, but overall the film is a black and white film.  The splashes do help to accentuate moments and make you stop and take notice.  And after the style, you will notice the characters who take front and center stage.  Nico and Billie are the main stars of the film and are asked to shoulder much of the acting load.  And they do a good job, their comfort on the screen and with each other is palatable.  It must help that they are actual siblings, because on screen they look and act just like a family.  Will Patton is wonderfully sad as their father who goes through extremes dealing with the issues in his life.  And Jabari Watkins as their friend is so fun to watch despite some inconsistent delivery from him.  When he joins the pair, the adventure really begins!

But what will really stand out is the story of Sweet Thing.  It takes place in that time when you still have childhood wonder but also are beginning to understand the realities of life.  The siblings are fun to watch as they still are holding onto some childhood fantasies (especially Nico) but are also dealing with some very real world problems.  And Sweet Things is a sweet film, but it is more bittersweet.  It is a sad yet endearing look at a broken childhood and kids trying to make the best with what they have.  And it is ultimately a beautiful, depressing film that looks at the innocence and joy of youth in even the worst circumstances.  Billie and Nico are asked to shoulder a lot when they shouldn't have to because of the adults in their lives.  And this ultimately leads to an adventure that is one part unsettling but one part pure magic.  

Sweet Thing is a bittersweet look at the innocence and joy of youth in even the worst circumstances, with a black and white style and a poignant story.  

Watch it.

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Sweet Thing is available via Virtual Cinema on June 18, 2021.  For showtimes, click here

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