Quick-Thoughts: Jane Campion’s Sweetie (1989)

Lesson learned ladies: never get between a man and his gardening. 

Jane Campion’s Of Mice and Men but set rather in the Aussie middle-class suburbs than the old countryside California, propelled by its fitting attempts to make every character seem like a bit of an oddball but to only then ostracize one character in particular when it comes to their external effect named Sweetie: a mentally ill, outspoken troublemaker who decides one day to crash at her sister Kay’s place. Through a dysfunctional (borderline incestuous) family dynamic where the parents treat Sweetie exclusively as a child despite her age (a perilous custom) and Kay as your average adult kin, we begin to see the two’s similarities with inward discomforts for their dog-eat-dog environments even though they are both treated extremely different based on how they share their personalities — Kay’s is subtle and automated like everybody else’s, unproductively praying for answers via superstitions; Sweetie’s is open —, stimulating the audience with a surreal feeling of melancholy in a satirical yet relevant social climate. 

Love Campion’s use of angles and leadroom in this as well. Psyched to venture into the rest of her work in the future; this is a good start!

Verdict: B

“Sweetie” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel and HBO Max.

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