SOUR PATCHES - SWEET THING
The Rockwell family (Writer/Director Alexandre Rockwell, wife/actress Karyn Parsons and children/actors Lana and Nico) teem with talent. Sweet Thing (initial release 2020/wider distribution, 2021) illustrates their individual strengths.
Two siblings live with their alcoholic father in New Bedford, Massachusetts. His dubious living cannot provide many necessities, so his daughter, Billie (Lana Rockwell) tries her best to make meals, care for her younger brother Nico (Nico Rockwell) and her inebriated parent (the omnipresent, always fine Will Patton). When circumstances force the children to stay with their equally dysfunctional mother and her boyfriend at a beach house, their lives worsen, eventually leading to their escaping for the day.
No one actor or character is out of place. The use of black&white film--juxtaposed with color for some dream sequences (Lasse Tolbøll, cinematographer)--recalls Roma and other masterfully filmed stories.
Billed as a coming-of-age movie, the story highlights the trials of these kids, like real-life children often overlooked; masked in scenic communities where the natural beauty and wonder that attracts many tourists disguises the reality for some year-long residents.
In one scene Billie, Nico meet Malik (a lost child the befriend, played by Jabari Watkins). They camp on a nearby beach at night. They sit by a fire, enjoying their precious, temporary moments of freedom from past trauma and future uncertainty.
Sad, sometimes beautiful, the narrative comprises mainly sour moments, barely offset by the sweet. Style, character predominate, leaving this viewer moved yet wanting more.
Overall, Sweet Thing makes an impression. The children have ephemeral respites that provide a glancing hope for better days. While, the adults leave us wondering whatever happened to their innocence.
Unrated. Child abuse, alcoholism, language and smoking.
Limited release beginning Friday, June 18, 2021.
Earlier reviews are available on https://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/wendy-shreve/movies
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