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Sweet Thing

Executive producer, David.

Executive producer, David.

Directed by Mark David. Screenplay, David, Mark Spacek, based on a story by David. Camera (color), Levy Castleberry, Marc Whiskemann, David; editors, L. Jay Duplass, David; music, David, William Tabanou. Reviewed at Seattle Film Festival , June 6, 1999. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: Jeremy Fox, Amalia Stifter, Ev Lunning Jr., Steven Bruton, Evan Greenwalt, Lana Dietrich, Michael Dalmon, Tim C. Curry.

A promising, melodramatic concoction leaves an unfortunately sour taste at the end of “Sweet Thing,” in which a young Texas painter in emotional turmoil and his morally corrupt politico stepfather lock horns. Visually busy yet emotionally naive, pic is fine for indie-themed fests but too unformed for the mainstream.

Sean Fields is a single-minded, distant young artist who creates vivid, disturbing pictures fueled by jagged memories of childhood abuse tempered by the support of Solomon, the family butler. As his alcoholic mother’s husband preps a congressional run, the seductive Hannah materializes to distract Sean from his work and burgeoning fame. In Southern Gothic fashion, everybody’s got sinister and interconnected agendas. Early sequences showing Sean at the canvas have veracious fire, and an impressive score sets the mood. But more accomplished thesps and sharper narrative are called for. Fine work by Jeremy Fox as the painter, Tim C. Curry as his moral compass and Steven Bruton as a violent tough from Hannah’s past is undercut by unfocused castmates and the overly ambitious scope of director Mark David (fronting the Austin-based Jam Pictures collective). Mark Greenwalt’s paintings are memorably bizarre.

Sweet Thing

(DRAMA)

Production: A Jam Pictures production (International sales: Jam Pictures, Austin, Texas.) Produced by Mark David, Tony Hewett, Mark Spacek, Michael Dalmon, Michael Cowan.

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