• Sweetie is the debut film for 35-year old New Zealander Jane Campion (The Piano)
  • It is a sort of family relationship comedy/drama mixed with quirky romance about Karen Colston’s Kay (her voice-over is our guide). Her sister “Sweetie” (Geneviève Lemon) comes bounding into the film about 20-minutes in interrupting the life, and fragile relationship, of Kay and her boyfriend Louis (Tom Lycos). There’s a bit of Renoir’s Boudu Saved from Drowning (1932) going on here for sure with Lemon playing the Michel Simon character (also getting the title).

From the opening shot you can see Campion is quite special- a high angle shot showing legs in the foreground and a floral-patterned carpet in the background

  • Campion shows an uncommon use of angles throughout— different than Welles (low, askew) or Tarkovsky/Tarr (high using the ground as mise-en-scene)—in another shot showing off a comically tiny engagement ring Campion again opts for the high angle—and again designs the background (here with wafer cookies). Later an overhead shot of Kay’s porcelain (previously chewed up by Sweetie) horses are next to her bed.

in another shot showing off a comically tiny engagement ring- Campion again opts for the high angle—and again designs the background (here with wafer cookies)

  • Thoughtful design of the candy striped red and white parking garage
  • At the 24-minute mark Campion blocks off the left 40% of the screen with the headboard of the bed- showing again just the legs extended out from the two lovers.
  • Bold wallpaper use
  • The wonky angles match the idiosyncratic characters and narrative—a fine binding of narrative and style. Campion could have brought that to an even greater formal level if the eccentric angles were heightened when Sweetie arrives on the scene.
  • There is an impressive bit of staging from Campion during a haircut scene—she actually has the characters arranged diagonally starting in the left foreground and going to the right background—at the 64-minute mark

Another stunner is at the 69-minute mark—they stop the car, the boyfriend is in the middle left, the mother played by Dorothy Barry is in the foreground center. Kay is flanking her to the right and the car is in the background. It is a great Kurosawa-like composition

The legs of the couple, cementing the formal bookends, at the end from the high angle

  • Highly Recommend – top 10 of the year quality film