C is for Candy

“The future was a thing that gleamed. The present was so very, very good…”

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Two young lovers battle the various levels of heroin addiction and attempt to survive the everyday struggles that is thrown in front of them during the course of their relationship. It isn’t exactly a groundbreaking, original idea and despite stellar acting from all three main characters, Candy doesn’t really bring anything new to the table.

Candy is played by Abbie Cornish. She’s innocent and beautiful and fragile. But it’s when she taps into her tormented and irritable side that she shines. Cornish plays the role with gentle ease. Her subtle facial expressions and her benign demeanour make her performance all the more believable. Heath Ledger plays her boyfriend Dan, a would be poet, the free spirited, long haired stereotype who we are to presume has dragged Candy along for the ride toward his oblivion. Both Cornish and Ledger are pretty faultless throughout and share a potent chemistry on screen that is difficult to find these days.

Although it does have it’s dark moments, it’s nowhere near as morbid as something like Requiem For A Dream. For the most part it does follow the traditional downward spiral of addicts that we’ve seen countless times on the screen before but instead of lumping itself firmly in one pigeonhole, it does it’s best to remain varied in it’s approach. Strangely there are some funny moments too and I got the feeling that Ledger may have been ad-libbing some lines of dialogue just for shits and giggles. The problem with the movie is that we don’t actually get to know the characters before they become addicts so we can’t judge them on how different they are. It makes it difficult for us to give a shit about them when they finally hit rock bottom. Still Cornish and Ledger have a certain quality that makes their plight unpleasant to watch.

Geoffrey Rush is great as always but I wish he had been given more screen time. His character Casper is a chemistry professor who spends his spare time at school making homemade heroin. He’s very likeable but feels a little under-utilised. We don’t really fully understand his relationship with Dan and Candy. He’s a friend, a mentor, a father figure but at the end of the day he’s their supplier.

Neil Armfield certainly had a vision for this movie. It does get a bit arty and wish-washy at times, electing to ponder over ambiguous sentiments in favour of a more direct narrative. Ledger’s narration throughout sometimes slows it down when what it really needs is a kick up the arse, but it does look beautiful and it never really delves too far into it’s artistic abyss. Considering the subject matter, Candy shares equally it’s heartbreaking moments with it’s optimistic ones. A good effort and admirable attempt by all involved but unfortunately it can’t really decide what it is so it just ends up being prosaic instead of poetic.

6.5/10

Gavin Logan – Follow me on Twitter

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