Complete A-Z list

Sweet East, The


Stars: Talia Ryder, Simon Rex, Earl Cave, Jacob Elordi, Rish Shah

Director: Sean Price Williams

A festival favourite from the back end of last year, cinematographer-turned-filmmaker Williams' bottom-budget indie has caused critics to write thousand-word essays on what it's all about and what attitudes it's taking. To this critic, it seemed a pointless exercise that never comes close to connecting with its audience.

Nihilistic student Lilian (Ryder) becomes detached from her college group and embarks on a series of picaresque encounters as she travels up America's eastern seaboard. So we meet, but are scarcely interested in, an English professor (Rex) with faux white supremacist philosophies, a group of no-budget (and no talent) filmmakers, quasi-religious ascetics who read such magazines as Harder, mad monks whose appearance is thankfully brief, and others.

The film briefly bursts into life when the filmmakers are interrupted - and massacred - by burly thugs searching for the professor's bag full of money with which Lilian has made off. But it's a false dawn.

And what is Elordi (the Saltburn Adonis) doing in this self-indulgent, self-satisfied farrago? Mercifully little: if James Bond does beckon, surely this is one Elordi will leave off his CV.

David Quinlan

USA 2023. UK Distributor: Utopia. Colour (unspecified).
104 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 2, Swearing 2.

Review date: 25 Mar 2024