When Hope's Out, Try Pluck

A slyly amusing film in a grim setting, Sweet Sixteen is unsentimental about its doomed subject

He's a piece of work, our Liam. As played by a nonactor named Martin Compston, he's not exactly handsome, but there's something about his spirit--wit and energy and an often comical inventiveness. Given a break or two, he could have become, you imagine, one of those rough-hewn entrepreneurs whose rags-to-riches stories so enliven capitalism's history.

Unfortunately, no breaks are available in Greenock, a depressed shipbuilding town in Scotland, where all the yards are closed. And for a kid nearing his 16th birthday, Liam has a lot of problems. His beloved mom is in jail for drug dealing. Her boyfriend and father...

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