The Sweet East


Sometimes it’s easy to despair with Hollywood, with its constant barrage of superhero fodder and constant wave of sequels. It can feel that it’s squeezing any originality that may have existed, and leaving very little room for anything else to surface.

Bucking this troubling trend in a refreshingly independent fashion is US filmmaker Sean Price Williams with his directorial debut.

boom reviews The Sweet East
But when I take my fingers away, it has to stay there...

School trips are essentially supposed to be dull, snooze fests, as you’re dragged around places of historical interest or whatever, wanting none of it. Not so for Lillian (Talia Ryder) however, whose trip to Washington D.C. is anything but dull.

She’s eating in a restaurant with her classmates, when someone walks in shooting their gun and claiming some very suspicious activities are occurring in the basement of that very establishment. Of course the places erupts, and Lillian manages to escape with the help of Caleb (Earl Cave), who describes himself as an art-ivist, and takes her back to his digs where the rest of his tribe hang out.

It’s the start of a very curious journey for Lillian, as she encounters a number of quirky and curious characters along the way.

boom reviews The Sweet East
The producers were concerned that this wasn't going to be a classic Gogglebox.

Williams is unapologetic regarding his debut’s indie credentials, with everything from the grainy film stock, squarish screen ratio and definite indie narrative. It’s no surprise to learn that he’s worked on a number of projects for the Safdie brothers, with their cinematic DNA most definitely infiltrating his system.

His debut is a modern day fairytale, with Lillian his Alice on her adventure through her American wonderland; his Alice is street smart and not afraid to take chances, willing to not only engage with an array of characters she comes across, but subtly challenge them.

Ryder is exquisite as the main protagonist, who not only embraces the naivety of her youth, but weaponizes it to good effect. She’s proactively searching for a different America to the one she knows, and boy does she find it.

Williams must have pulled in a few favours however, as there are some recognisable faces, such as Jacob Elordi who recently played Elvis in Prescilla, as well as The Bear’s Ayo Edebiri; despite their appearances they never compromise his indie integrity.

And although there are occasional signs of the film running away from him a little bit in places, showing to be a tad self indulgent, Williams delivers the perfect indie antidote to the current crop of commercial heavy hitters, serving as a welcome reminder that the indie spirit is still very much alive and kicking.

we give this three out of five