Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
San Jose Mercury News:
Mixes the bitter with the sweet and stays in the mind because it refuses to succumb to the cynicism that surrounds its protagonist.
Compston's performance and the downer milieu, presented with appropriate paint-peeling profanity, are more than enough to keep an audience riveted and ultimately moved close to tears.
There's a profane but strangely tender rawness to this sometimes brutal movie, anchored by Compston's remarkably assured debut performance.
It's a harsh, terrible story of a rite of passage, a boy's love and a journey to hell, and it's so brilliantly told that we feel the cold above and the all-consuming flames beneath.
New York Times:
Mr. Compston's untamed star power gives the movie a heart, a sweetness that makes the title heartfelt and not just cheaply ironic.
Los Angeles Times:
Confident, uncompromising and blisteringly realistic, Sweet Sixteen is a gritty and immediate film yet it goes right to the emotions.
From its gripping immediacy to its strong cast of unknowns, Sweet Sixteen feels almost like a documentary. Loach and screenwriter Paul Laverty keep an evenhanded focus on harsh truths, and avoid melodrama and grandstanding.
Dallas Morning News:
Ideology is manifested as empathy, rather than polemic, and the result is a lean, powerful little film that's more about people than politics.
It has a humane grasp of the pleasures kids create even under hellish conditions and of their adaptive capacity to craft a life out of the materials available.
One more feather in the proudly proletarian cap of Ken Loach.
Loach may be best known for staunchly political films like Bread and Roses, but in many ways Sweet Sixteen is a throwback to his other pictures, grittier slice-of- life films like My Name Is Joe.
New York Observer:
Mr. Loach once again reaffirms his honored position as one of the world's most passionate and compassionate filmmakers.
Yes, this is a political movie (at least it has a political viewpoint), but, more than that, it's a character study of an individual who will not easily be forgotten.
San Francisco Chronicle:
The casting is impeccable, the dialogue raw and the impenetrable Glaswegian brogue is wisely translated with English subtitles.
Loach's latest adheres so closely to his long-established narrative pattern -- overdetermined case study crowned with a morbid jolt -- that viewers might underestimate its wit, empathy, and careful characterizations.