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Shantae Barnes-Cowan-in Sweet As (IMDB/Nic Duncan 2021)

In Sweet As, four troubled teenagers go on a photography safari through Western Australia’s Pilbara region, in a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. Source: Australian Catholics. 

Travelling with two supervisors, the trip is an opportunity for the teens to get away from their surroundings and face some of their problems. 

The central youngster is Murra (Barnes-Cowan), a student who indulges in shoplifting. Her mother, a drinker, is highly critical of her and some of the drinkers in the house tried to molest her. Fortunately, Murrua has a sympathetic uncle in Ian, a local policeman, played by the ever-reliable Mark Coles Smith. It is he who gets Murra a place on the minibus for the camera safari. She is joined by three other youngsters, Sean, pale and thin, depressed and sometimes feeling suicidal; Elvis, an Aboriginal boy with a lively personality but who has suffered the trauma of being beaten u[; and Kylie, a surly white girl dominated by an adult white male. But the chaperones on the trip are very sympathetic – Tasma Walton is a no-nonsense driver and advisor, Carlos Sanson Jr is the photography expert .

Dramatically, there are not too many surprises along the way. But that is not the point. The point is to look at the portrait of the four, sense their inadequacies, see their limitations, even in relating to each other, the false steps they take, the clashes, their being left to fend for themselves in the bush, the responding to some crises, and the photographs.

Murra finds that photography is one of her talents, carefully choosing pictures, and the audience seeing the title at the side of each photo she takes. She is on country and we observe country through her eyes, the extraordinary beauty of the rock formations, the water holes and waterfall.

So, on the whole, this is a sweet film, not a dramatic blockbuster.

Review by Fr Peter Malone MSC, Jesuit Media 

Sweet As: Starring Shantae Barnes-Cowan, Tasma Walton, Carlos Sanson Jr, Mark Coles Smith, Ngaire Pigram, Pedrea Jackson, Mikayla Levy and Andrew Wallace. Directed by Jub Clerc. 87 minutes. Rated M (Mature themes, coarse language and sexual references)


Sweet As (Jesuit Media via Australian Catholics)