Sweet Thing centers around the lives of two children in contemporary New Bedford, Massachusetts during one eventful summer spent in a beach house with their mother and her boyfriend. The story is an intense but ultimately uplifting, poetic rendering of childhood that captures the essence of that time in life when a day can last forever. The friendships, loyalties, and challenges of adolescent youth propel the story into a triumph of childhood hope and resilience.
The central character, Billie, is a 15-year-old girl who fantasizes Billie Holiday as a sort of fairy godmother. Billie has to navigate the evolving challenges of her life while she plays mother to her 11-year-old brother, Nico. They meet up with another adolescent, run away from home, and together roam the area free from their parents’ watchful eye. They discover freedom and enchantment among New Bedford’s boats and railway tracks. They fantasize about a life of luxury when they break into a posh home, and are able to carry the taste of affluence into their adventures. The film celebrates their ability to make poetry and a joyful life out of hardship. The children come to represent a hope in our own resilience, as the film is an ode to that trying age when young people prepare to take their first step into adulthood.