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Sweetie

Title: 
Sweetie
Year: 
1989
Film Format: 
dvd
Director: 
Campion, Jane
Language: 
English
Country: 
Australia
Actors: 
Genevieve Lemon, Karen Colston, Tom Lycos, Jon Darling, Dorothy Barry, Michael Lake

Maybe the best Australian film ever and certainly one of the finest 1980s films anywhere. If you were introduced to Campion with The Piano or An Angel at My Table you may be disconcerted by this beautifully skewed, eccentric and almost incidentally humorous tale of Australian suburban family heartbreak.Kay, the film's central character works in a mysteriously unidentifiable job that involves continuously wearing an oddly clinical lilac dress. She deliberately falls for Louis because his hair-flick and facial mole corresponds to a tea leaf reader's prediction that her man has a question mark on his face. She uproots a baby Alder tree he has planted for her. She is temperamentally afraid of trees, creepily adumbrated by her sub-Lynchian dream of worming rootlings. Her sister Dawn (Sweetie), who has luminescent tree-house at home, arrives with odd boyfriend/booking agent to set about noisily disrupting their sexually dysfunctional harmony.Their parents are equally eccentric and there is a gloriously camp interlude in the outback, after Dawn has been cruelly left behind in which the family dance to country music at the farming station where the mother has landed a job as cook for the cockies.The central trope of the ravenous tree route that binds, caresses and crushes is ever present but never intrusive. The problem of sexual inhibition is handled with expert subtlety and the faded colour production design and watery chiaroscuro effects suggest a charming region of hell. Most of all the central tragic drama is felt to quietly devastating effect.