Films With Meaning

Thanks, Sweetie

“Sweetie”, by Jane Campion

“Sweetie”, by Jane Campion

“Sweetie” is a hard film to write about for several reasons. For starters, the style and aesthetic of the film are like nothing else I’ve seen, making it impossible to do justice to it through mere description. More importantly, one of the greatest strengths of the film is discovery, and so the more I write about the film, the more it takes away from the film. The one tantalizing thing I will say about the film is that while the film is called “Sweetie”, it is more about Sweetie’s sister. If you can understand the psychology behind such a choice, you will have a good idea what the main themes of this movie are. However, even unraveling this clue so completely as to know everything about the themes of the movie will not give you even the slightest clue as to what this movie is like or what to expect. And that brings me to what I can write about with this film, artistic discovery.

When I talk about artistic discovery, I mean of the artist, but true artistic discovery becomes discovery for the audience as well. All filmmakers, like all artist, have influences and heroes of their own. But the true artist digs deep inside themself to find what is theirs and theirs alone to share, to create, and risks vulnerability to create something new and never before seen. It is such a risk because all art is subjective, so there is no guarantee that if an artist follows this urge to create that it will be appreciated or even accepted by audiences, popular and critical. The more daring the artist is to dig deep and expose themselves, straying outside the norm, the greater the risk of rejection or ridicule, especially by the popular audience. But it is only when great artists risk that cruel rejection of their exposed self that something as remarkable as “Sweetie” can exist. 


Of course now it sounds like I am putting unreasonably lofty expectations on this film that it could never live up to for those who read this and then watch it. But my appreciation for Sweetie as remarkable has nothing to do with how it was received by anyone who has watched it before, and not for anyone who will watch it after. It is merely an acknowledgment of the film as something wholly unique, unlike anything I’ve seen before. WIth the long history of film, that is quite a feat. A film like that really only comes about when it is an authentic representation of something really deep and personal within the filmmaker. And, if the audience is open to it, then the audience gets to discover something new as well, something that may just alter their perspective on film, on people, on the world. 

Finally, that brings me to “Sweetie” and me. I have not felt this creatively invigorated by a film in a long, long time. There are many films I love, many more I admire, but few nowadays that open up my eyes to wondrous new possibilities. I have started working on a treatment for my first feature film script, with plans to begin writing soon. It is going to be the most personal film I have written by leaps and bounds, and while I have the story and themes down very clearly, I have been having trouble visualizing just what I want the film to look like and to feel like. I was feeling a little bit stuck inside of old ideas and old influences, and that was leaving me feeling empty of vision. Watching “Sweetie” pumped precious new life into me creatively speaking and I am excited to start seeing this next film in my head rather than merely thinking about it. Thanks, Sweetie.