Sweetheart (2021) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)

Sweetheart may not craft the best conflicts or resolutions, but it excels when it comes to teen romance and family dynamics.

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Title Card - Sweetheart (2021)

Sweetheart may not craft the best conflicts or resolutions, but it excels when it comes to teen romance and family dynamics.

Director(s) Marley Morrison
Screenplay By Marley Morrison
Date Released 10/15/2021
Where To Watch Film Festival (NewFest)
Genre(s) Comedy, Drama, Romance, Young Adult, LGBT, Family
Duration 1 Hour 42 Minutes
Content Rating Not Rated

Cast & Character Guide

Please Note: This is not an exhaustive list of every cast member.

AJ (Nell Barlow)

Named April Jane, but preferring AJ, life currently isn’t at its best for AJ. Her home life is going through upheaval due to her parents’ relationship and her older sister, Lucy, being pregnant, and she is just unsure of what’s next. At least, she is uncertain of what’s next that isn’t a drastic departure from all she has known and done.

Isla (Ella Rae Smith)

Isla lives in the area where people holiday, and it is fun for her at times, bu tit also lacks a certain level of stimulation. This leads her to act impulsively when she finds the chance to wake herself or others up, but sometimes people get hurt in the process.

Tina (Jo Hartley)

AJ, Lucy, and Dayna’s mother who has had it a bit tough but is trying to have a nice little break from life with her girls.

Lucy (Sophia Di Martino)

AJ and Dayna’s very pregnant older sister who is a hairdresser, and while not self-absorbed, she has no issue taking up room in whatever space she is in.

Steve (Samuel Anderson)

Lucy’s boyfriend and the father of her child, who is probably the most chill of the family and is a godsend for AJ during the holiday break.

Dayna (Tabitha Byron)

Tina’s youngest who stays out of the way and isn’t fully aware of the drama that surrounds her.

Film Summary

After a bit of a rough few bits in the family, Tina decides to take her three daughters on holiday. Now for Lucy, who is very much pregnant, there is a nice escape before she and her boyfriend Steve will have to focus on raising their kid. For Dayna, the holiday coincides with her birthday, so this is AWESOME! But AJ isn’t happy about being forced on holiday at all. Especially since there is no wi-fi and she’d rather be by herself.

At least that is until Isla comes into her life and gives her access to what it means to be happy. Something that AJ hasn’t experienced in so long, it seems like a fantasy out of a book at this point.

Things To Note | Question(s) Left Unanswered

  • Reason(s) for Film Rating: Smoking, drinking, cursing, implied sexual situations


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AJ and Isla

These two are butterfly-inducing. The reasons? Starting with AJ, she is such a Debbie Downer that you come to realize she is miserable because no one showed her life can be different. All that anyone has done is confirm the worst can happen, that joy is fleeting, and so now she doesn’t really run towards it anymore. She just prepares for the worst and barely believes the best will come. Then with Isla, she is stuck in a holiday town where people come and go, and the people who stay don’t stimulate her. Simply put, they are what’s accessible, and because she likes to have fun, she gets her kicks with them.

This is what makes AJ and Isla’s situation so beautiful: They give each other what they can’t find at home. Isla doesn’t change how she treats AJ whether AJ is dressed more feminine or masculine, and makes AJ feel attractive. On the opposite end, AJ’s mind works tickles Isla, and is also very chill. Well, except when she is spiraling, but you can tell there is an attraction there which gives Isla the endurance for AJ’s BS. Particularly when AJ deals with feeling overwhelmed by someone liking her.

AJ’s Complicated Relationships

It’s sort of weird that, in the film, AJ’s closest relationship is with her sister’s boyfriend. Mind you, there is no funny business, in case you’re worried about that. But, it’s like Steve might be the only one who has experience with someone like AJ, so he knows how to communicate with her. Meanwhile, Tina and Lucy are trying to navigate AJ’s highs and lows, and the fact that, with a lack of stimulation, she seeks to get a rise out of people sometimes. Note: never in a malicious way, but to perhaps create conversation about the things she knows.

This often leads to Tina and Lucy never minding AJ and trying to keep each other in check when they go too far. As if they know AJ can be an ass, but also realize they aren’t enough for her and need to remind each other it is okay and that AJ needs to be her own person to survive. Otherwise, she’ll go nuts and further isolate herself due to finding rejection everywhere she turns.

On The Fence

Some Of The Major Conflicts & Their Resolutions

Like damn near all romance movies, there is a fight that seems so unnecessary and a reconciliation that makes you roll your eyes. Yet, you love AJ and Isla together so much that you give it a pass. However, when it comes to Tina and AJ, it is a bit harder to accept them reconciling so quickly due to the things shared between them. But the film makes it clear there is a longing on Tina’s side to be closer to AJ. It’s just, how do you make a person happy who is so committed to avoiding the silver lining of the moment?

Wishing More Was Done With Tina As A Individual

Tina is going through something with the father of her children and is the type of mom who pours so much into her kids, who she is as an individual seemingly got lost a bit. In the movie, there are moments you can see Tina trying to regain her own personal joy and a life beyond her kids, but the moments are few and fleeting, since this is AJ’s story, that it does make you wish Tina did get a little more of the spotlight. Especially to boost the verbal altercations she has with AJ and the desire for them to reconcile.


Our Rating: Positive (Worth Seeing)

Sweetheart excels when it comes to building up to the various high points of the film. However, it struggles with creating credible conflict and handling the resolution to the fights people get in with one another. Because of this, each altercation seems obligatory, for the sake of drama, than expected due to AJ’s insecurities or past incidents.

Yet, this remains worth seeing, for the way Isla and AJ interact will give you butterflies, and you can see what they wanted to do with the major relationships in AJ’s life. The execution isn’t perfect, but it is good enough.

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Title Card - Sweetheart (2021)
Sweetheart (2021) – Review/ Summary (with Spoilers)
Who Is This For?
Those who want a young adult, queer love story with a dash of family drama and a dose of the anxiety which comes from feeling seen by someone you'd think would never look twice in your direction.
AJ and Isla
AJ's Complicated Relationships
Wishing More Was Done With Tina As A Individual
Some Of The Major Conflicts & Their Resolutions

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