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Film Review: Sweetheart

Stick the 24th of September in your diary and find a Picture House near you. Brand new British Indie film Sweetheart is out and 100% worth a watch. This fab film is spiky and topical, yet funny and nostalgic. Marley Morrison’s feature length directing debut, a queer coming of age romance is worth the wait.

We meet our protagonist about to head off, unwillingly, on a classic British Family holiday. 17 year old AJ is smart, funny, gay and environmentally conscious. Played by fantastic newcomer Nell Barlow. This awkward teen cuts cuts a striking silhouette – think Britpop 90’s meets Napoleon Dynamite. She sports a fantastic bucket hat, worn both day and night over a self styled bowl cut. And her melancholy tinged-outlook on topics as diverse as the impact of cows on climate change through to the caravan park’s entertainment, is viewed through her orange tinted, over sized aviators.

Nell Barlow as AJ: Photograph Over A Cliff Ltd

A classic British summer holiday

The last place AJ wants to be is on a caravan holiday at the seaside with her family. Dragged along by mum Tina (the fabulous Jo Hartley) they are celebrating the impending birth of her sister’s baby. She would rather be knitting jumpers for elephants in Indonesia. Days are spent begrudgingly babysitting younger sister Dayna (Tabitha Byron) by the pool. Evenings…well, these will be familiar to anyone who has ever been to a British holiday camp. A predictable sequence of kids disco, a magic show and adults drinking until they have the dutch courage to hit the dancefloor.

To make it worse, no one in her family gets her. They don’t understand her new found vegetarianism nor will they just let her do what she wants to do. She arrives to discover that her mum has repacked her suitcase with more ‘girly’ clothes and lied about the Wifi connection. Meanwhile, her heavily pregnant sister Lucy (Sophia Di Martino) spends all her time ordering around her easy-going partner Steve. Thankfully, Steve (Samuel Anderson), is a bit of a hero in mediating the family politics.

The Plot Thickens

As the story continues to unfold on a quintessentially British caravan park, levels of nostalgia are abound. Think karaoke, Bacardi Breezers, jackets in August, George Michael tributes and long walks to find phone signal. Then, a chance meeting in the laundry room with lifeguard Isla (Ella-Rae Smith) changes AJ’s perspective entirely. Isla is impossible to ignore. Sporting her lifeguard outfit and whistle, she is beautiful and confident, yet approachable sparking up conversation with AJ and asking for her number.

Sweetheart has perfectly captured a love interest in Isla . Which makes a refreshing change from the endless list of unattainable, aloof and often straight (boo) characters usually found in queer teen movies.

How will AJ’s week turn out? Is holiday romance on the cards? Watch/Stream Sweetheart this autumn to find out 🙂

Photo: JD Dillard

About the Director

Marley Morrison’s debut and an award-winning feature film is funded by the incredible Film London’s Microwave feature film scheme, as well as the BFI and BBC Films. Check out the recent Guardian interview to hear more about Marley’s journey to Sweetheart making it to the big screen and her background, and be prepared to fangirl on her. Hard.

Overall, all we can say is that this quintessential, heartwarming and hilarious British Film London’s flagship feature film scheme is well worth a visit to your local Picture House to watch. So grab a date, a giant bag of popcorn and be ready to laugh, cringe and maybe even shed a tear at this nostalgic movie.

Sweetheart: Opening 24th September at Picture House cinemas, with a special showing on 26th September at Hackney Picture House including Q&A with writer-director Marley Morrison & producer Michelle Antoniades.

Looking for more queer movies to watch? Check out our review of Desert Hearts hear if you’re looking for something a little different. More teen movie action? How about check out Ellie & Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt) We hope you love it as much as we did. Love Team Nonchalant xx

Nat Cameron
Nat Cameron

Nat is a London native currently living and working in South East London. After a six year stint in Asia Nat is enjoying all the fun London has to offer. Nat is Most likely to be found taking photos, cooking, exploring London’s galleries or spending too much money on food. (Also on a constant quest to find the best Chinese food in London)

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