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Sweetie (Criterion Collection)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Geneviève Lemon, Karen Colston, Tom Lycos, Jon Darling, Dorothy Barry
  • Directors: Jane Campion
  • Writers: Jane Campion, Gerard Lee
  • Producers: Billy MacKinnon, John Maynard
  • Format: Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: R
  • Studio: eOne Films
  • Release Date: Oct. 24 2006
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • ASIN: B000H5U5RQ
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,215 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Though she followed it with a string of brilliant films, Jane Campion will always be remembered for her stunning debut feature, Sweetie. Campion focuses her askew lens on the hazardous relationship between the buttoned-down, superstitious Kay and her rampaging, devil-may-care sister, "Sweetie," and by extension, their entire family's profoundly rotten roots. A feast of quirky photography and captivating, idiosyncratic characters, Sweetie heralded the emergence of this enormously gifted director as well as the breakthrough of Australian cinema which would take international film by storm in the Nineties.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.1 out of 5 stars 16 reviews
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars She's Not As Sweet As Her Name Might Suggest Sept. 30 2006
By K. Harris - Published on
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"Sweetie" is here! A Criterion treatment! The first time I saw "Sweetie" was purely by accident. It was before Jane Campion went on to make better known, bigger budget films--this film was her feature debut in Australia. And while I respect many of her works including "The Piano" and "An Angel At My Table", I don't have the passion for them that I do for this oddball of a movie. Part of the joy of seeing "Sweetie" for the first time was having no expectations. The film surprised me in every regard--it's wickedly funny, yet horrifying and moving at the same time. A few years ago, I found it again and I made my friends watch it, too. I was concerned it might not hold up to memory, but that feeling was short-lived as soon as the wondrous Genevieve Lemon came onscreen as Sweetie.

"Sweetie" is a film that really explores the notion of family. As the titular character, Sweetie is a powerful presence whose very existence has crippled her family and, in many ways, held them hostage. Primarily, we see things through Sweetie's sister Kay and I love that the film introduces us to the peculiarities of Kay without explanation. Then when Sweetie arrives on the scene, things start to become very clear as the family dynamic takes the foreground.

I consider "Sweetie" a comedy, but I'm not sure everyone would agree. But then, I have a bit of a sick sense of humor. Certainly there are many laughs to be had in the film--if only uncomfortable ones. But, make no mistake, there is also genuine and vivid emotional turmoil. The films success is that it balances these elements so well--and, in fact, that brings a bold realism and resonance to the proceedings.

The film is shot beautifully, and always slightly askew (which is perfect for the subject matter). The performances are vivid. Karen Colston is great as Kay, and you won't soon forget Lemon as Sweetie. And as odd as the film is, it will stay with you. And you just might recognize elements of your own family dynamic within the excesses presented! KGHarris, 9/06.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Black, black, black humor. April 1 2008
By Robert Beveridge - Published on
Format: DVD
Sweetie (Jane Campion, 1989)/Passionless Moments (Jane Campion, 1983)

Sweetie is the type of comedy I would write if I wrote comedies-- relentlessly black, full of subversive moments, and deeply, deeply twisted. Barrel of monkeys? I scoff at your fun!

Kay (Karen Colston) is rather mousy, introverted, and not terribly happy in her relationship with Louis (Tom Lycos), whom she lands after consulting a fortune-teller. Not the best start to a relationship, one would think (and one would be right). Still, Kay and Louis are content, in their own miserable way, until Sweetie shows up. Sweetie (Genevieve Lemon) is Kay's younger sister, and she's well, I believe the technical term is "crazy as a loon". No one but Kay, however, seems capable of seeing this; her parents just see her as slightly eccentric, though still their darling baby daughter. Louis is oddly entranced by her. Gordon (Jon Darling), her manager/boyfriend, is convinced she'll be the one to finally net him some success, and he's not put off by the fringe benefits of managing her, most of which he reaps between the sheets. Loudly. As Sweetie slips farther and farther round the bend, though, the rest of the family does come to see that, perhaps, there might be something wrong; unfortunately, no one's equipped to deal with this new perception, and anything that can go wrong, etc.

I should probably insert some sort of warning about triggering conversations/behaviors, but that's kind of the point of the movie, isn't it? This is supposed to push your buttons (in much the same way that Very Bad Things did a few years later). And it does a very good job of it; the movie was castigated and/or damned with faint praise when it appeared, though it has since been recognized as a classic in the making given some of Campion's later output (e.g., The Piano). Campion, who both wrote and directed, is a twisted genius with a camera here; all you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. And I highly recommend you do so.

I wouldn't normally review a thirteen-minute film, but Passionless Moments, which can be found in Sweetie's DVD extras, is on Jonathan Rosenbaum's list of the thousand best films ever made, so I should probably give it a paragraph. A short made by Campion in 1983, Passionless Moments takes a number of disparate scenes and puts them together. Each of them is oddly familiar, things you've done or wondered about yourself, but presented from odd angles, or with weird cuts; it's as if Roald Dahl got inside your skull and started writing Tales of the Unexpected straight out of your subconscious. It's absolutely worth your time, and is worth the cost of buying the Sweetie DVD by itself. **** (for both).
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thanks Again, Criterion! May 8 2007
By Randy Buck - Published on
Format: DVD
Once again, the Criterion Collection's given us a marvelous DVD transfer of a wonderful film that had rather fallen through the cracks -- in this case, Jane Campion's haunting feature debut, SWEETIE. Odd and intensely personal, the picture's full of striking images (particularly brilliant use of color in the set design), camera angles that are unusual without feeling forced, subversive comic writing, a wonderful soundtrack and, not least, fearless performances from a talented cast. This is the kind of movie that has such strong interior logic, the audience willingly follows where it leads, no matter how bizarre or unexpected the destination proves to be. I'd vividly remembered many scenes of SWEETIE since seeing it theatrically in its original release; experiencing Campion's vision again today is just as strong. The usual superior Criterion touches -- fascinating commentary and student works from this director, insightful essay in the accompanying booklet. If the only Campion films you know are THE PIANO or PORTRAIT OF A LADY, you may find many surprises here. Very worthwhile.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars family trees Aug. 11 2001
By Peter Shelley - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
This film is to director Jane Campion's The Piano what David Lynch's Eraserhead is to his The Elephant Man - a personal highly stylised experiment before the challenge of the more conventional big budget assignments that would allow for both a controlling of each director's excesses and a streamlining of their obsessions. The parallel between Lynch and Campion can also be extended to their mutual interest in loners, misfits and eccentrics, and they both treat them with piteous dignity, in much the same way photographer Diane Arbus did for her "freaks". Sweetie is similar to Eraserhead also because it's an endurance test for those who hold a high opinion of each director's later work. The fine line between pleasure and pain can be felt with great artists and their fine line between genius and crud. Campion here uses a song "Love will never let you fall" sung by Tony Backhouse and The Cafe of the Gate of Salvation Choir as a backdrop to her tale of two sisters. Campion dedicates the film to her own sister and the screenplay written by herself and Gerard Lee is based on Campion's idea, so we know this is a personal story. (Campion's sister Anna is now also a director). Campion doesn't introduce the title sister until she has established the nature of the first, Kay, but also we don't fully understand why Kay is the way she is until Sweetie arrives, and is soon followed by their father. Sweetie is a monstrous child/woman but when the arguments between sisters begin it's hard to know whose side to take, since Sweetie makes Kay just as dislikable. Perhaps because Campion knew the narrative could be reduced to the domestic struggle of those tied by blood, she employs an expressionist use of framing where the person on view is placed off centre, as well as stop motion footage of the growth of plants, a montage of the workings of Kay's mind when she attempts meditation, and a flashback to Sweetie as a childhood performer with a growling dog as audience. There are also strangely disturbing images - 2 men dancing together at a cattle station, and Sweetie bathing her father. However, like Lynch, Campion has a wicked sense of humour and the climactic incident in a tree is equally comic, tragic and metaphoric. As the sisters, Karen Colston and Genevieve Lemon are never allowed to become grotesques - they are both given touching breakdown scenes - and Campion appears to have a special gift for handling child actors, with the little boy neighbour and the girl playing Sweetie as a child at the end particularly good. And like Eraserhead, once you manage to adjust yourself to the slow rhythms and lower your too high expectations, you find that Sweetie gets better as it goes along.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars pure pleasure June 13 2002
By cuddy247 - Published on
Format: VHS Tape
I've seen three Campion movies. It took a long time for me to forgive 'The Piano''s humorless, heavy hands and move on to 'Holy Smoke!'. But HS revealed a comic sensibility that 'The Piano' never suspected. 'Sweetie,' Campion's first feature, is by far my favorite yet.
'Sweetie' is an odd film. Mostly, it's an examination of what it means to be an individual--inside of and outside of the repetitive struggles of family dramas--and the perils and joys of exclusion and elitism. Campion uses her sharp wit to draw blood, and without the comforts of a privileged moral voice (e.g. the competent parent or maternal sufferer of most family dramas), the humor can seem a little mean-spirited at times. But 'Sweetie' tempers its alienated perspective with moments of grace that are as terrifying, joyful and sublime as the dry open spaces of its Australian landscape.
Moving the viewer through a fractured world of beautiful and unsettling images, Sweetie is this director's most richly creative and psychically adventurous work.