Robert Seidenberg (review date January 1990)
SOURCE: "Sweetie: Jane Campion's Maverick Family," in American Film, Vol. XV, No. 4, January, 1990, pp. 59, 65.
[In the following review, Seidenberg examines Campion's treatment of family life in Sweetie.]
Dark, destructive forces simmer under the surface of everyday life, held at bay by repression and denial. Add a little pressure to the mix and those forces bubble over. In the offbeat comedy Sweetie, Jane Campion's feature debut, they erupt with volcanic force, bringing chaos to an Australian family.
"In families, like everything else, there's the good side and the sick side," explains Campion, a 35-year-old New Zealander living in Sydney. "In Sweetie, the family is in distress, and under stress things usually don't come out so well."
Fulfilling the prophecy of a fortune-teller, Kay (Karen Colston) falls for a man with "a question mark"—formed by a cowlick and mole—on his forehead. A year later, the road turns rocky. The brooding Kay turns frigid. Her romance dissolves. Even worse, she's visited by her manic sister, Sweetie (Genevieve Lemon).
Though she's an irresponsible, conniving adult, Sweetie still sees herself as daddy's little girl: a sweet, tap-dancing show-off with infinite potential. She'll stoop to anything to get attention, even barking and biting like an incensed hound. With her erratic behavior, she's detonated...
(The entire section is 542 words.)