Sean Price Williams and Nick Pinkteron’s “The Sweet East” is equally a fantastical road trip and giant trolling effort.

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“The Sweet East” General Information

Director Sean Price Williams
Screenplay By Nick Pinkerton
Based On N/A
Date Released (Film Festival -New York Film Festival) October 10, 2023
Genre(s) Comedy


Film Length 1 Hour, 44 Minutes
Content Rating Not Rated
Noted Characters and Cast
Lillian Talia Ryder
Caleb Earl Cave
Lawrence Simon Rex
Molly Ayo Edebiri
Matthew Jeremy O. Harris

Content Rating Explanation

“The Sweet East” is not yet rated, but contains profanity, disturbing images, violence, some sexual content, and drug use. 

Film Summary

This content contains pertinent spoilers. Also, images and text in this post may contain affiliate links. If a purchase is made from those sites, we may earn money or products from the company.

“The Sweet East” is a paradoxical film that enjoys trolling American culture and viewers searching for meaning. Sean Price Williams’ directorial debut is an outrageous tale, reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland but with neo-Nazis and anarchists galore. I can imagine “The Sweet East” gaining cult status in the future, but as of now, it’s a movie with fragmented puzzle pieces that don’t quite make a cohesive picture. 

We begin with Lillian (Talia Ryder), a high schooler on a school field trip to Washington, D.C. She stays isolated from her peers and says little about her thoughts, but her world is turned upside down when a shooter enters the building Talia is in and demands to see a sex dungeon. This description may be nonsense to some, but it was an American phenomenon just 6 years ago and symbolic of the rest of the movie: a proud loony satire of American culture. 

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Simon Rex and Talia Ryder star in “The Sweet East” (directed by Sean Price Williams, 2023)

Lillian escapes the shooter with a young punk activist Caleb (Earl Cave), falls into different encounters with a kind neo-Nazi (Simon Rex), two zealous filmmakers Molly (Ayo Edebiri) and Matthew (Jeremy O. Harris), and develops a crush on a rising male star Ian (Jacob Elordi). “The Sweet East” relishes mocking any character that believes in something but leaves its protagonist so vacant and adaptable that viewers may leave with little passion or connection to the film as well. 

“The Sweet East” creates bold vignettes of American beliefs and culture across the East Coast but intentionally refuses to anchor these characters or stories into a message or bigger picture about how Lillian or anyone else should respond. The result is a bag of mixed laughs and exhausting, needless urgency to say nothing. “The Sweet East” can feel like someone getting on stage to make fart noises into a microphone. It’s funny, yes, but the joke outstayed its welcome.

Other Noteworthy Information

  1. Director Sean Price Williams has been credited as the cinematographer “for many of the best and most significant independent films of the past decade” by film critic Richard Brody.
  2. This is Sean Price Williams’ directorial debut.
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Jeremy O. Harris and Ayo Edebiri as filmmakers in “The Sweet East”

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.


Lillian is a teenager who can charm or lie her way through most situations. While she’s bored by her high school life, she becomes awakened with a new curiosity when she starts interacting with different cults.

  • The actor is also known for their roles in “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” and “West Side Story.”


A mild-mannered and well-educated white nationalist. Lawrence’s role may be controversial and a litmus test for people’s enjoyment or interest in the movie.

  • The actor is also known for their roles in “Red Rocket” and “Scary Movie 3.”


Our Rating:  Mixed (Divisive) 


Cinematography Grounds the Gonzo Outrage

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Due to 16-mm grainy camera footage and many handheld shots, “The Sweet East” looks and feels like a documentary. This look is in deep contrast to the outrageous stories in “The Sweet East,” but it complements the movie and makes viewers feel as if they’re watching a movie. The madness feels near nostalgic and beckons viewers to recall absurd moments in their own adolescence. 

Low Points

Puzzle Pieces with No Cohesion

In “The Sweet East,” Lillian encounters plenty of strangeness and characters, but the movie could easily eliminate or replace any of these scenes with no change to the plot or Lillian. It’s a string of events without explanation or realization, and by the end, you could feel like the movie mocked everyone, including you, for watching it. 

On The Fence

Urgent Energy and Absurd Imagery Loses Steam 

“The Sweet East” can captivate viewers within the first few minutes. Opening with a shooter informs us that anything is possible. The movie takes this premise to extremes, with fully animated scenes and penis people too. “The Sweet East” is never boring, but it can be draining to watch.

Who is This For?

Fans of coming-of-age films that mix a bit of social satire and road trip hijinks might enjoy “The Sweet East.” 


If you like this movie, we recommend:

  1. Never Rarely Sometimes Always
  2. Everything Everywhere All at Once
  3. Euphoria

Check out our movies page for our latest movie reviews and recommendations.

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The Sweet East (2023) – Review and Summary
The result is a bag of mixed laughs and exhausting, needless urgency to say nothing. “The Sweet East” can feel like someone getting on stage to make fart noises into a microphone. It’s funny, yes, but the joke outstayed its welcome.
Cinematography Grounds the Gonzo Outrage
Puzzle Pieces with No Cohesion
Urgent Energy and Absurd Imagery Loses Steam 

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