“If certain people watch it and feel seen then we’ve done our job”: Nell Barlow on Marley Morrison’s Sweetheart
Sweetheart is an indie coming-of-age drama following 17-year-old AJ, who is virtually dragged on holiday by her family to an oh-so-glamourous British seaside park in Dorset while she dreams of knitting jumpers for elephants in Thailand.
AJ’s already come out to her family as a lesbian and they’ve accepted the fact – but that doesn’t make her navigating the excitement and heartbreak of first love or feeling desperately uncool in her own skin any easier. Her hilariously self-deprecating inner monologue reveals an ongoing struggle with her own identity.
Newcomer Nell Barlow brilliantly captures the angst and awkwardness of adolescence as AJ, and the chemistry she shares with her fellow cast – This Is England’s Jo Hartley as her frustrated mum, Tina, Sophia di Martino as her self-involved pregnant sister, Samuel Anderson as her sister’s understanding boyfriend Steve and Ella-Rae Smith as the pretty and effortlessly cool lifeguard she’s set her sights on – make for many a tender and supremely British comedic moment.
This is the debut feature from writer and director Marley Morrison, who drew on her own teenage experiences for the script, and it’s already charmed audiences at the BFI Flare LGBTQ+ Film Festival, as well as won the Audience Award at the Glasgow Film Festival and Best First Feature at Inside Out Toronto.
The Upcoming spoke to lead actress Nell Barlow about why she was drawn to Morrison’s script, preparing to play her character, and the highs and lows of shooting the film at a British holiday park with her fellow cast. She also explained why it was important to her and Morrison to represent a story with an LGBTQ+ character that doesn’t necessarily end in trauma and tragedy, but rather reflects more everyday trials and tribulations.
Photo: Over a Cliff Ltd
Sweetheart is released in select cinemas on 24th September 2021.
Read our review of Sweetheart here.
Watch the trailer for Sweetheart here: