It is not difficult to see in the figure of Lillian, protagonist of ‘The Sweet East’of sean price williamsthe Alice created by Lewis Carroll in 1865. Like the British girl, Lillian (Talia Ryder) also falls down a rabbit hole and as she meets impossible characters and travels through different worlds that will mark her future.
In ‘The Sweet East’, however, the other side of the mirror is not a wonderful underworld, but a delusional and polarized America. World premiered in the Directors’ Fortnight at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, it is more than likely that ‘The Sweet East’ will be one of the most lysergic films of the current edition.
Due to the story that it modulates and also due to all the plastic display displayed by Price Williams, also the cinematographer of some of the most disruptive American indie films of recent yearslike ‘Good Time’, by the Safdie, or ‘Zeros and Ones’, by Abel Ferrara.
With ‘The Sweet East’, one is not sure if what Price Williams has filmed is a dream or a nightmare, a black humor film or a teen drama of surreptitious tensions. His directorial debut aims to contain it all and, in this case, the collision of impossible ideas and narrative resources of all kinds builds a deranged but exciting vision of a country whose identity is in a whirlwind. A shake of any established idea.
A ‘trip’ of unexpected twists
If ‘The Sweet East’ achieves something, it is to surprise from minute onewhen after a cacophonous prologue that shows us the protagonist on a study trip in Washington, there is soon a small musical scene that serves to display the opening credits of the film.
The sweetness with which Ryder sings “evening mirror“It is hardly a mirage, because from there we will witness how an armed woman enters the place where the party boys are, demanding that its owner release the children that he has kidnapped in the basement, in a clear allusion to the conspiracy phenomenon. of the pizza gate.
Serve the description of the first five minutes of the film to account, with the minimum spoilers possible, from radical spirit and back from everything that boasts ‘The Sweet East’. A road trip that jumps from Washington to Baltimore and from there to New York and other points on the east coast of the country, and well packed with unforgettable characters.
The most prominent of all is clearly the one played by Simon Rex (‘Red Rocket’), a white supremacist who works at the university and who ‘kidnaps’ the protagonist to offer us some of the most surreal and terrifying conversations in the movie. Earl Cave, son of rocker Nick Cave, or Jacob Elordi (‘Euphoria’) also appears in the cast.
praise of imagination
Co-written by Price Williams and Nick Pinkerton, ‘The Sweet East’ puts aside any condescending attitude towards its characters to be surprised by them. In a way, there is an anthropological attitude behind this detailed and unprejudiced study of the filmwhich also goes hand in hand with the myriad of visual formats that are used.
With ‘The Sweet East’, independent American cinema continues a countercultural legacy expanded in films such as ‘Bad Lands’, by Terrence Malick, ‘American Honey’ by Andrea Arnold, or ‘Spring Breakers’, by Harmony Korine. Definitely is one of the most exciting and fun debuts that have been seen in the French contest and that places Price Williams as one of the names to follow from now on.
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