Sweet Sixteen (2002)

A teenager attempts to raise money to help his drug addict mother move out of a poverty-stricken Scottish town in Ken Loach’s forceful drama.

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Alternative titles

  • Sixteen Working
  • Dulces 16 Working


“Paul Laverty is the perfect collaborator for Loach; his politics are just as passionate, but his eye for character is tender and true. That's why Loach is at his best with Sweet Sixteen.”
Alan Morrison, www.empireonline.com

A fifteen-year-old attempts to escape the poverty of Greenock through drug-dealing. Thrown out of home, and with his mother in prison, young Liam (Martin Compston) is a working-class outsider with few options to better his lot, a familiar character in Loach’s cinema. When the film was released, an essay about the effects of poverty on children accompanied screenings.

Once again, Loach cast a non-professional in the main role – Martin Compston, a young professional footballer, won a Scottish BAFTA for his performance, and has continued to work in film. Frequent collaborator Paul Laverty lightens the grim subject matter with a witty and perceptive script, which won him an award at the Cannes film festival.

The end of Sweet Sixteen references François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959), another study of a troubled adolescent.

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