Black Woman Versus [Free Space]: Sweetheart (2019)
Written by Alex Hyner, Alex Theurer, and J.D. Dillard
Directed by J.D. Dillard
Without question one of my favorite viewing experiences this year, Sweetheart plays as a meticulous course in minimalism. This execution is wildly successful. Jenn (Kiersey Clemons) is immediately thrown into a nightmare scenario with the backdrop of an invitingly, serene island. Her terror and capacity for resourcefulness is sound and enthralling. But as genre does, the wrench in any composure she may be hanging on to loosens entirely as a threat lurks.
Dillard challenges by letting Sweetheart be the story we see. No rules, no mythos, yet it's far from reveling in a simplicity that's predictable or leaves you bored. My case for the curves thrown in the 82 minutes are exercises in revealing who Jenn is right now. And Dillard's use of a black woman lead to show this is very deliberate. His commitment in balancing of scales of who "get[s] to do the cool things" in genre narratives, staying true to his vision, as well as trusting audiences can have layered dialogue about it is what makes Sweetheart so effective.
There are sound design choices and shots that are astoundingly unforgettable, holding together the essence of a film that conveys volumes with a masterful amount of restraint.
SWEETHEART is now available digitally on just about every on-demand platfrom from Blumhouse and is streaming on Netflix now. Watch and share, then watch with the ones you shared it with.