Courtesy 101 Films

The aimless man, the nagging wife, and the sweet taste of freedom – these common tropes are all covered in Yernar Nurgaliyev’s SWEETIE, YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT, but the film never becomes anything more than a one-note joke.

The story opens with Dastan (Daniar Alshinov) and his pregnant wife Zhanna (Asel Kaliyeva) arguing over baby names before Dastan is whisked away by two of his friends for a fishing trip. The three relish in their getaway, but it isn’t long before things take a turn in 10 different directions.

When Dastan and his friends accidentally witness a murder and have to avoid being killed by the same gang, that’s a linear plot. When there’s also a kidnapping, a forced wedding, and a mysterious man with supernatural strength, that’s throwing ideas at a wall.

It’s hard to feel like the short runtime (a little under an hour and a half) is worth anything when none of these ideas come to fruition. There are some vague themes about friendship, but it’s hard to see anything of substance when we are finally given peace returning to Zhanna’s ever-present badgering. We get superficial glances at these characters’ relationships and are expected to feel something when no groundwork has been laid at all.

SWEETIE, YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT’s greatest weakness is that the story doesn’t really mean anything, and not in a good way. The creepy gas station attendees aren’t some part of the larger story – they’re just convenient. The one-eyed man determined to execute everyone doesn’t have a back story – he just moves things along. When Dastan returns to Zhanna, there’s some sad irony in her not believing his story, but viewers deserve better than a tired married trope.

In flat humor and gross-out action, there’s something to be found for mindless viewing, but not much else.

SWEETIE, YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT is now available on Digital and On Demand.

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