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  • Writer's pictureJamie

The Sweet East - Review

The Sweet East feels like an extended edition of a Lana Del Ray music video as it flowingly transports you across the United States and introduces you to a variety of caricatures living within it. Usually describing people as caricatures has a negative connotation but the dream like presentation of The Sweet East makes these personalities fit into perfectly. It’s dark humour keeps the energy up while the soft look and music slows it down to a pace that for the most part worked really well for me. 

Lillian (Talia Ryder) is a student, visiting Washington D.C with her class when an active shooter accuses the pizza restaurant they’re in of housing an underground paedophile ring. This prompts her to be taken to safety by Caleb (Earl Cave). He brings her to his house where he lives with a group of “artivists” that plan to protest a white supremacist rally the next day, a long drive away.

There she drops off and heads on another adventure with Lawrence (Simon Rex) and continues her trend with these fleeting encounters that lead her into varying degrees of calamity. 

I was a big fan of this film, I thought that the interactions between Lillian and the broad cast of characters were all mostly engaging and different in ways that built up Lillian’s character. She is dragged into pretty insane situations in quick succession but again I think the style of the film allows for some level of suspension of disbelief and an acceptance of the structure. 

My only real drawback was some of the moments in the middle of some of these connections where I felt the pace sag a little bit. 

I’ve spoken a lot about the look of the film which blends a really flowy camera style with some animation in parts and dream-like visuals. It’s also quite intimate for a lot of the film, just enjoying watching Lillian react to the world around her. This adds a lot of likeability to her, making us an audience settle into her character as we go along the journey, feeling a level of anchor with her while the story takes us everywhere and anywhere. 

The music in the film follows suit with the camera and trickles with piano and swells with strings. The film doesn’t hinge on huge emotional moments of payoff so there is no real intention to push a feeling through the score, it feels as free as the story. 

While Talia Ryder’s performance anchor’s down the film, the array of supporting cast shake up the mood fo the film in many different ways, from Simon  Rex’s uncomfortable Lawrence and Ayo Edebiri with Jeremy O. Harris in whacky mode. The transition between these characters is done well so as to not switch up the tone abruptly but more in the music video style it had set. 

My journey across the American lands was very pleasurable in The Sweet East. Its so easy for these types of “aimless” films to lose their way and become a mess of new whos and whats that give you no time to get into their world. This film is kind enough to let you in and never really overstays its welcome with the groups to bore you along the way. Sean Price Williams is a successful cinematographer and I hope he continues down the directorial route if this is his first showing.


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