Welcome to Jane Campion month! When I asked you all to vote for our next Female Filmmaker, I was surprised when the New Zealand native won nearly half of the vote. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. Jane Campion is one of the most honored ladies on our list! She’s been nominated for two Academy Awards (one of which she won) and two Golden Globes for The Piano in 1994, garnered three Emmy nominations for Top of the Lake two years ago, and she won the Palm d’Or in 1986, before our story with her even starts! We pick up with her three years after her prestigious win, with a sad, strange, sometimes silly story of one weird woman’s even weirder family.
If taken at face value, Sweetie is a cautionary about how a daughter's untreated mental illness can cause an already unstable family to disintegrate. But nothing in Campion's surreal story is meant to be taken at face value. With the help of (lady!) cinematographer Sally Bongers, Campion shows a gift for making the mundane malevolent. When cast under shadows and seen through a wide angle lens, plastic furniture, dappled rugs, and the brightly-colored trappings of middle class suburbia suddenly suggest something rotten in the state of New Zealand. Campion refuses to shy away from the ugliness of her characters, instead covering them with candy colors that make them all the more grotesque.