Sweet Sue (2023)

November 27th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri: Leo Leigh | Cast: Maggie O’Neill, Tony Pitts, Harry Trevaldwyn, Anthony Adjekum, Anna Calder-Marshall, James Dryden | UK Comedy Drama 99′

After a shaky start with Loony in the Woods and his short documentary Fact of Fiction: The Life and Times of a Ping Pong Hustler, Leo Leigh, Alison Steadman and Mike Leigh, finally finds his feet with this confident comedy drama.

Sweet Sue makes for an amusing feature debut capturing the sardonic resentment of a bereaved English family with the same signature brand of snarky deadpan humour of his parents.

Of course Sue, a sparky Maggie O’Neill, is anything but sweet: and we soon realise why, but that’s all part of the irony. The film opens with another dating disappointment for Sue, a fifty-something singleton, whose has just been stood up in the local pub. Meanwhile, in the now familiar setting of a care home her younger brother, Pete, is in the final stages of an undignified death, comforted by his wife, (Hannah Walters) who clearly resents Sue’s continued lack of input in the matter. The two of them bicker bedside while Pete gobs uncontrollably into a tissue. The next scene sees his funeral cortege pulling out of a driveway with a ghastly floral tribute of pastel chrysanthemums bearing the name ‘Pete’ adorning the hearse. The petty bickering flares up later in the pub – this ‘close family’ is clearly far from close, Sue’s mum chunters away under her breath, and Pete’s widow once again bemoans Sue’s lack of support. Breaking away from the morose duo Sue strikes up a conversion at the bar with a tight-lipped, leather-clad biker who introduces himself as Ron. The two promptly leave, Sue preparing to ride pillion with her potential paramour, Pete’s widow objecting loudly as the two make off

The story proceeds along similar lines as we get to know them all better, Sue is assertively bubbly while Ron remains locked in his monosyllabic old-school masculinity. Anthony, his rather narcissistic son, is a thoroughly modern character, and Trevaldwyn certainly plays up his personality traits to perfection. Ron, by his very nature, remains the most enigmatic character here, and we are left wondering whether Sue will make a go of things this time: there’s clearly a sexual frisson despite their chalk and cheese differences. Sweet Sue maybe not be groundbreaking narrative wise but it certainly has a ring of truth for those familiar with the dysfunctional family territory. @MeredithTaylor

IN UK AND IRISH CINEMAS from 22 December 2023










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