New coming-of-age movie 'Sweet As' tames troubled youth

New coming-of-age movie ‘Sweet As’ helps tame troubled youth

The new coming-of-age Australian movie ‘Sweet As’ is directed by young Nyulnyul and Yawuru film director Jub Clerc, and follows the adventures of a small group of at-risk teenagers on a photographic road trip to the outback.

Set in WA’s beautiful Pilbara region, Sweet As – almost a current day version of the John Hughes’ cult 80s film The Breakfast Club – is the first Australian feature written and directed by a WA Indigenous filmmaker.

It follows 15-year-old Murra (Shantae Barnes-Cowan) who lives with her mother Grace (Ngaire Pigram) and is fed up with her mother’s constant drinking and partying.

Despite her terrible homelife and putting up with all kinds of physical and verbal abuse – not only from her mother but also her boozy friends – Murra is not keen to go on the road trip, which has been recommended to her by her policeman uncle Ian (Mark Coles Smith).

But once she joins the other teens her bus trip through the Pilbara proves transformative, as she learns about friendship, first crushes, and growing up in a safe space, with Mitch (Tasma Walton) and Fernando (Carlos Sanson Jr.) leading the group.

As an escape from their troubled lives, Sweet As is a journey of discovery for all the teens: the loud and extrovert Elvis (played by Pedrea Jackson), the quietly depressive Sean (Andrew Wallace), and Kylie (Mikayla Levy), whose aggressive personality belies an inner maturity.

As a group they are all given traditional film cameras and told to photograph selectively since unlike mobile phones or digital cameras, the number of shots you can take on film is limited.

Their mobile phones are also taken away, causing angst for Kylie who is addicted to hers.

Throughout the film the beautiful Pilbara landscape is a highlight, as is the at-first reluctant camaraderie that slowly builds between the group.

The performances in this film are outstanding, particularly from Shantae Barnes-Cowan as Murra who shows a depth of maturity well beyond her years.

Tasma Walton is also superb as the emotional ‘rock’ for all the kids to cling to.

Sweet As is showing at Luna Leederville from June 1 with advance screenings on Saturday 27 May and Sunday 28 May.

New coming-of-age movie 'Sweet As' tames troubled youth
New coming-of-age movie ‘Sweet As’ tames troubled youth

By Mike Peeters

Mike Peeters Media