Reviewed by: Darren Amner

"I wasn't trying to wreck Candy's life. I was trying to make mine better."

The above line is a quote from Dan (Heath Ledger) our part-time poet, full-time junkie and narrator for this story about a man who's seduced by two types of drugs: Love and Heroin. When Dan meets Candy (Abbie Cornish) he is instantly attracted to her; she is beautiful, passionate and shares the same desire as him, a taste for heroin. Candy is an artist who immediately falls for the charming rogue and his drug of choice and the couple conduct a love affair that's well and truly intoxicating.

Copy picture

Candy is a love story about two characters who are at times quite selfish, seedy and completely caught up in their own world. Nothing is more important to them than scoring a quick fix; the only thing that keeps them alive is their love for each other. The movie is based on a novel by Luke Davies, who also wrote the screenplay, and is told over the course of three segments entitled Heaven, Earth and Hell. Heaven shows the fun side of drug taking and Director Neil Armfield displays this through his choice of colours and music. Earth sees our drug fuelled duo coming to terms with marriage, scoring money for drugs, impending parenthood and then trying to kick the habit. Hell is the re-evaluation of their lives and how much of an impact the drugs have had on them physically, emotionally and mentally.

Dan is not an instantly likeable character, but the power of Ledger's performance makes you symphasise with Dan's plight. One particular moment when Dan is waiting in the car is expertly captured by Armfield: the camera lingers on Ledger's face as Dan waits for Candy (she is inside having sex with the shopkeeper to make up extra money). The look he gives as he stares into the lense is haunting and hypnotic. It's the turning point in the movie and his realisation that the journey they are about to embark on is going to change their lives forever.

Abbie Cornish has been labelled with the 'next big thing ' tag for quite some time after starring in Somersault which earned her rave reviews. As Candy she is breath-taking. Cornish gives a beautiful, painful and utterly absorbing performance; her chemistry with Ledger is electric, engrossing and emotionally charged. Most of the movie rests on these young shoulders - however, Geoffrey Rush as Casper the gay father-figure gives wonderful support and deserves a mention. It also gives the movie a different feel when he is present and creates a more light-hearted tone.

Luke Davies' writing is very lyrical and poetic. The script has very dark moments but also features some comedic aspects, which are very welcome as most of the movie is tense, sad and draining, though this is by no means a criticism. Neil Armfield's direction stylistically is very restrained and quite surprising actually, as a theatre director I was expecting swirling camera movements and crazy angle shots. Here he chose his shots well and let the performances drive the story and for this the director must be commended for getting high impact acting from his cast.

Heath Ledger proves to his doubters once again that Brokeback Mountain wasn't a one off performance. He injects Dan with much needed charm and it's in the third act that he shows real star quality as Dan realises just how much of an effect heroin and Candy have had on him and how desperate he is to get his life back on track.

Candy is a little film that needs to be seen. It's not going to be for everyone and is tough viewing at times, but it's refreshing. As we go to the movies for many reasons, for one to be entertained, we also like to be challenged and Candy is a very challenging film. Based on performances and direction Candy is accomplished story-telling and will have you hooked and addicted to its every frame. Film is powerful and Candy is a great example; the movie has and will be causing quite a stir so make sure you catch it while you can.

Seek it out.

Reviewed on: 19 Oct 2006
Share this with others on...
Candy packshot
A junkie poet falls in love.
Amazon link

Director: Neil Armfield

Writer: Luke Davies

Starring: Heath Ledger, Abbie Cornish, Geoffery Rush, Tom Budge, Noni Hazelhurst

Year: 2006

Runtime: 108 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Australia

Search database: