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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Sweet Sixteen

(Edited highlights of the panel's review)

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Just stunning. Full of humanity. The central performance by Martin Compston is just beautiful. At the very end, when the tragedy ultimately happens, this kid's face ages right in front of your eyes and it is just the most touching thing I have ever seen. I think it's just an incredible masterpiece.

Loach's films break down into those that are miserably hopeless and those that are hopelessly miserable. My problem is that this one is hopelessly miserable. His movies like Raining Stones deal with people in grim circumstances who somehow celebrate their battle. Others like Ladybird Ladybird and this are about people being swamped by their grim circumstances. In fact it is almost a Greek tragedy, it's Oedipus. The redeeming feature is the vitality of the performances. Here is a collection of performances that you have got used to with Ken Loach movies. You just think everyone in Loach movies does the naturalistic performances; they just turn up and do it. He has coaxed terrific performances from the actors. I wish the ark of the story was slightly less nihilistic.

There were wonderful unexpected touches of humour. The despair was there, but you expect that from Loach. There is a great bit when Liam decides he is going to commandeer the pizza guy to get the drugs to his customers. There were lovely touches of black humour, but also a lyricism, not only in terms of what happened to the characters' lives but the way it was shot. It begins with the kids looking at the stars and ends with a seascape. In between, there are lots of overhead shots and crane shots. There is a wonderful shot where the camera rises above the houses and you get a view of a lake with a rainbow across it. How nihilistic is a rainbow?

There are two controversies surrounding this film about language. One is the Scots dialogue which has led them to put subtitles on for the first 15 minutes. The other concern is about the frequent use of a particular Anglo-Saxon word. This has got the film an 18 certificate. Ken Loach is very upset about this. He wants younger cinema-goers to be able to see the film. Do you think the certification is wrong?

Yes. It should be a 15 certificate. Just because it's got the Anglo-Saxon word in it is no reason for it to have such a certificate. That's language that people are hearing on the street anyway. It's perfectly possible for councils to overrule and put their own 15 certificate on it, in fact I would encourage them to do so. Clearly this film will appeal to people between 15 and 18. In many ways, they will be the target audience. It's really stupid to restrict them from seeing it on the grounds they haven't heard this word before. What world do they live in?

It's exactly the way people speak. It would be a wrong against the people he is filming to not say how they actually speak. If you can take a kid to see a slasher movie, why can't they hear a real Anglo-Saxon word that everyone uses?

This transcript was produced from the teletext subtitles that are generated live for Newsnight. It has been checked against the programme as broadcast, however Newsnight can accept no responsibility for any factual inaccuracies. We will be happy to correct serious errors.

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