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It’s extremely rare that I see something that makes me stop and think “this is just extremely my ****” as often as I did during Sweetheart, the sharply-scripted, smartly-directed creature feature from Sleight filmmaker J.D. Dillard. Produced by Blumhouse, Sweetheart is a genre-hybrid character study of Kiersey Clemons‘ Jenn, part survival movie, part monster movie, part relationship drama; all centered around how the young woman finally learns what she’s capable of when she wakes up stranded on a small island… and soon discovers a monster lives there too.
Dillard proves himself a master of resourceful filmmaking here and wastes no time getting to business. Sweetheart begins as the young woman wakes up on the shore of the abandoned tropical island. Stirring as the water laps at her feet, a fellow survivor of her mysterious ship crash washed up alongside her — except he’s got a giant piece of coral stuck in his chest, living just long enough to mutter the ominous last words “Did you see it?” before drawing his last breath. For her part, Jenn doesn’t have time to process what that “it” might be, muttering only a soft “what?” before getting to work on figuring out how to survive this wild new terrain she calls a temporary home.
Lot - Sweetheart - Chief - Clemon - Turn
There’s a lot to love about Sweetheart, but chief among them is Clemon’s spectacular turn as Jenn and Dillard’s constant faith in both his actress and his character. Dillard co-wrote the script with Alex Hyner and Alex Theurer, and with the backing of Clemon’s thoroughly commanding performance, they endow Jenn with unwavering competence and utter lack of hysterics. That becomes crucial as the film’s deeper themes start to connect, but in the near-dialogue-free first act, it’s an absolutely refreshing portrayal of a woman in peril. Whether she’s discovering the bloated torso of...
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