Wednesday, August 31, 2011

#356: Sweetie

(Jane Campion, 1989)

Sweetie is one of those movies about unlikeable people doing irrational things for unbearable amounts of time. I didn't care for it.

The film is centered around a young woman and the unwelcome arrival of her troubled sister, thrust into her life in the middle of a dead patch in her bizarrely conceived relationship with a man she thinks she is fated to be with forever. The early sections of the film focus on this relationship's origins, and Campion makes clear from the beginning that she is looking for a skewed reality - her work here in her debut is oddly reminiscent of Tim Burton's 80s output, most notably Edward Scissorhands minus the fantasy elements.

Despite the appeal of Campion's eye, however, the movie is intolerable because it relies entirely on its unlikeable characters. There's no one to grab onto as basically everyone in the film is difficult to watch. But Sweetie herself is the ultimate challenge in patience. As an annoying and hatable - but ultimately deeply troubled - antagonist, Sweetie is the film's emotional core. A lot of how you react to Sweetie will depend on how you react to Sweetie, and I found her absolutely unwatchable, particularly because I didn't care about any of the other characters in the film. It makes it difficult to appreciate the technique and budding voice that Campion would bring to fruition in her later films.

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