NO LONGER RENTABLE
courtesy of Eureka Entertainment Ltd.
Teenager Billie and younger brother Nico share time between their separated parents - father Adam is a chaotic drunkard with a loving heart for his kids who is working as a Christmas Santa, and mother Eve, who has redefined her identity in a brazen style since leaving Adam and is now living with a new and obnoxious boyfriend Beaux. The kids feel uncomfortable around Beaux, but visits to their mum have introduced them to new friend Malik, a boy as equally adrift as they are. Half in desperation and half in a spirit of adventure this trio sets off on a running wild trek across Massachusetts, crossing paths with a variety of American eccentrics, angels and desperados.
From what sounds like a not-particularly-original scenario writer / director Alexandre Rockwell weaves something magical and heart-rending. Shot in rich monotone (with occasional bursts of colour) and largely from the hip, both of which lend the distinctive feel of the ‘90s indie films such as In the Soup with which Rockwell made his name, Sweet Thing is a showcase for the talents of his daughter Lana, who carries the film as Billie. She takes solace in music, idolising namesake Billie Holiday and strumming nonchalantly on a ukulele while singing plaintively in a captivating voice. In fact, the film is a family affair, with Nico played by Lana’s real-life brother Nico Rockwell and Eve by their real-life mother Karyn Parsons. A mention must be made of non-family member Lasse Ulvedal Tolbøll, whose wonderful black and white cinematography brings another winning element to this gem of a film.
Amongst three international wins, Sweet Thing picked up the Crystal Bear for Generation Kplus - Best Film at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival and the College Jury Prize for Best Film at Quebec City International Film Festival 2020.
‘With verve and vitality it pays a dreamy-eyed retrospective debt to films past, and largely due to the beguiling performance from Rockwell’s own daughter Lana, ultimately delivers a moving, tousled journey of discovery’ - Jessica Kiang, Variety.
‘director Alexander Rockwell conveys a really fresh and intimate nostalgia beyond what you’d see in the usual black & white indie flick. It is quite a surprise to find a white director interested in class consciousness who understands skipping school, knows about police racism… ’ - Zep Armentano, Filmfestivals.com
‘A gorgeous new film… a family affair both in front of and behind the camera… Sweet Thing is also stunningly rendered. All three kid actors are incredibly talented, and the film makes very strong use of music, which includes multiple examples of Lana Rockwell’s fine singing.’ - Steven Silver, Sordid Cinema.
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Lana Rockwell, Nico Rockwell, Jabari Watkins, Will Patton, Karyn Parsons, M.L. Josepher
Lasse Ulvedal Tolbøll