Sweetheart is an endearing and sweet coming of age film about family, falling in love and finding out who you are. The film stars Nell Barlow playing AJ, a gloomy, climate-conscious, gay teen who really doesn’t want to be on her family holiday.
With her bucket hat and sunglasses covering most of her face, AJ perfectly captures what it feels like to be embarrassed simply for existing. She makes friends with Isla played by Ella-Rae Smith, a lifeguard at the holiday park, who she is instantly attracted to.
The pair form a quick connection, and AJ casts off some of her awkwardness and starts to enjoy herself.
What is so refreshing about this film is the LGBT+ storyline is one with minimal conflict.
AJ and Isla have bumps in the road—mostly centred on AJ’s preconceived ideas about Isla and her sexuality. But overall, their relationship is about joy and discovery.
The primary conflict in this film comes from the relationships between female family members, which aren’t helped by being trapped together in a caravan. AJ’s mum and sister support her sexuality, but tensions rise because each side struggles to communicate.
The scenes where they finally can talk are some of the most beautiful of the film. All each character wants is to understand their loved one a little bit better.
Often gay storylines in films are fraught with pain and frustration, in a bid to capture the homophobia in society—which is fine.
But if you want to watch a coming of age LGBT+ film where no one dies at the end, this film is for you.
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