DON'T BE misled by the film title Sweet Sixteen. The latest work by British director Ken Loach is neither a puppy love story nor a sweet tale about adolescents and their adorable families. Quite the contrary, Sweet has a sobering effect, and audiences may find it depressing to watch a Scottish teenager driven to extreme measures in an attempt to better the lives of his family. Loach is renowned for presenting social problems on screen. His earlier movie My Name Is Joe about a recovering alcoholic is solid proof of his skills. In Sweet, Loach again brings us a story full of humanity. Written by Paul Laverty, the film, set in a poor suburb in Scotland, won the Best Screenplay award at last year's Cannes Film Festival. The lead character, 15-year-old Liam, dreams of having a stable family life. His mother is in prison on drug charges, and his older sister has disowned her mother and moved away. Loach explores these believable characters in realistic situations, and his film is by no means escapist. When Liam's mother is due to be released the day before his 16th birthday, the dutiful son comes up with an idea to provide a fresh start for the family: to find a new home. He wants to keep his mother away from her drug dealer boyfriend, and he needs quick cash. Liam and his best friend Pinball finally find themselves dealing in drugs. Sweet is a film of ironies. Traditionally we see mothers waiting for their repentant sons, but Loach shows us the story the other way round. We are also confronted with Liam's self-sacrifice, and his desire to be loved. But his actions are not totally selfless. Watch out for the ending, which reminds us that things seldom work out the way we expect them to. Newcomer Martin Compston, 17, plays Liam. His performance is transfixing. Although he has never acted before, he convincingly portrays a gritty, violent side around gangsters, while being sweet and tender in front of his mother and nephew. No wonder he was voted Best British newcomer at the London Film Critics' Circle Awards, and at the British Independent Film Awards. Sweet also won the Best Film award at the European Film Awards, and at the British Independent Film Awards. As a note of caution, the film contains some violence, strong language throughout, and the heavy Scottish accents and dialects are difficult to follow. Language point Irony is the incongruity between what might be expected and what actually occurs. For example, in Sweet Sixteen, Liam wants to save his mother from sin, but he himself falls into the world of crime. Irony is also the way in which you say something when you mean the opposite. You may hear the following dialogue in many teenage dramas: 'You're dating my boyfriend. Thank you very much!' The 'thank you' is said on purpose to make a sarcastic criticism. Irony is not only used in daily conversations or in movies. It is also a literary technique. A clever use of irony helps the writer to make a critical comment by casting a topic into a new light or reversing a perspective on it. People using irony can also take up an opponent's argument and exaggerate it so that its weaknesses are laid bare before an audience. Example: 'The authority plans to introduce a peg between course subsidies and the student attendance. That's very clever. Students will learn about how the dollar sign affects the quality of teaching. They will learn that the market mechanism does not guarantee quality. What the majority like is not necessarily the ultimate good. This is not covered by many textbooks.' Do you think the writer supports the plan?