Ben Oliver

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The Sweet East

The election was a pre-scripted puppet show, just like everything, only more so.
25 April 2024

A high-school girl on a school trip to Washington D.C. (Talia Ryder) escapes the group and goes on a surreal trip across the east coast, through city and countryside.

This is my chance to use the word ‘picaresque’; our protagonist floats by on her wits and her luck, in a kind of fever dream, bouncing between different people and parts of the world.

As a satire it starts out keenly but proves too be too bitter and cynical to really make an impact. Yes it takes a swipe at a few facets of modern America but if you don’t land a few blows by being occasionally honest you are more akin to an edgy teenager spouting shite in the corner.

I suppose that’s better than blindly picking a side, and The Sweet East does have a sense of fun and momentum to it that in the moment feels good to follow. And yes it’s pretty funny at times. Plus any kind of new take on a road trip is always welcome with me.

The social commentary is tiresome more than eye-opening but this is still a well made, original film powered along by some great performances, an oddball pace and some cool stylistic choices.

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