Candy (Abbie Cornish) is a young artist whose lust for life takes her to the edge of sanity. Dan (Heath Ledger), is an aspiring-poet in love with Candy. In heroin they find a path to limitless pleasure. But as the addiction takes hold they lose the very thing they sought - the purity of their love. If they can't steal the money for a fix - or worse - they go to Casper (Geoffrey Rush), a decadent older user and supplier. They seek an escape in the country but fail to find it, and when Candy falls pregnant, they try to stop using for the baby's sake, but fate intervenes. Candy rejects her parents (Tony Martin, Noni Hazlehurst), and when she has a breakdown, their love is stretched, seemingly beyond its limits.
Review by Louise Keller:
Candy and Dan live in their own world, a kaleidoscope of intensity. Life comprises drugs and sex. Love, it seems isn't enough, are they are swept up into the whirlwind of addiction. Watching Neil Armfield's beautifully directed film Candy is a little like looking through a window and watching pain. "The world is very bewildering to a junkie,' says Heath Ledger's Dan. And it's bewildering and difficult to watch as the world of two young individuals becomes confused and destroyed. The central characters are artists - a painter and a poet - but is it art to watch this self-destruction? It's a performance driven film and Ledger and Abbie Cornish as Candy bury themselves in their characters. They live to get high, and although the film's three sections are called Heaven, Earth and Hell, it all feels like hell.
Told from Dan's point of view (the story is adapted from Luke Davies' novel), Dan and Candy want to share everything - from 'the best bits' to the rock bottom of despair. Cornish is especially appealing as Candy and Ledger convinces, despite an accent which wavers from Aussie to Pommie and back. It's a tough film and the world of drugs is never glamorised. "When you can stop, you don't want to; when you want to, you can't," muses Geoffrey Rush's junkie Casper. Rush paints Casper as a complex and sad figure, who accepts his own addiction almost philosophically.
Candy and Dan shoot up in a car wash, in a bath, in the bedroom, in the lounge room..... needles and more needles. It all gets tedious. We become almost detached, just like Dan, when Candy first prostitutes herself, to raise drug money. He is stunned as he sits in the car outside the loan shark shop, but does nothing. Once on the merry go round, there's no turning back, and Candy's parents (Tony Martin and Noni Hazelhurst) watch helplessly. We feel their plight. The incessant drug abuse becomes tiresome to watch and sequences like those in which Dan steals a wallet and goes through extreme lengths to use the stolen credit cards are almost a welcome relief.
Ultimately Candy is a sad experience, that takes us into the lives of characters that are lost and suffering. Although there are rewards in this proficiently made and well performed drama, the experience is more painful than revelatory.
DVD special features include interviews and an audio commentary with director Neil Armfield and writer Luke Davies plus deleted scenes and trailers.
Published November 9, 2006
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CANDY: DVD (MA)
CAST: Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush, Tony Martin, Noni Hazlehurst, David Argue, Paul Blackwell, Tom Budge, Jason Chan, Nathaniel Dean, Tara Morice
PRODUCER: Margaret Fink, Emile Sherman
DIRECTOR: Neil Armfield
SCRIPT: Neil Armfield (novel by Luke Davies)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Garry Phillips
EDITOR: Dany Cooper
MUSIC: Paul Charlier
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Robert Cousins
RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Dendy
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 25, 2006
SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio commentary with director Neil Armfield and writer Luke Davies; deleted scenes; interviews with director Neil Armfield and writer Luke Davies; original Australian and international trailers
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Madman
DVD RELEASE: November 8, 2006