Saturday, June 10, 2006

Movie Review: Candy

If you choose to go and see Candy you are in for a very harrowing experience. The story is about love -- but with a terrible twist. Candy (Abbie Cornish) and Dan (Heath Ledger) are in love -- with each other and with heroin. Both of these obsessions lead to spiralling decline into crime to support their habit, prostitution, and physical and emotional imprisonment - despite their delusion, at least initially, that they are free. Candy and Dan are both beautiful people with everything going for them. But they don't want anything more than each other and the next fix. Encouraged by a long-time friend and heroin user (Geoffrey Rush) their lives uncontrollably swoop between despair and euphoria while Candy's parents (Noni Hazelhurst and Tony Martin) look on in pain and frustration. The story is agonising to watch. The drug-taking is completely authentic. The story is based on Luke Davies' book of the same name. Luke Davies' is an ex-drug addict and collaborated in the script writing for the movie. And Cornish and Ledger spent weeks with users and ex-users learning how to shoot up and observing the physical effects of taking the drug. Ledger and Cornish are absolutely brilliant in their roles. Heath Ledger was nominated for best actor at the Oscars for his role in Brokeback Mountain but, as far as I am concerned, his characterisation of Dan in Candy is his best role ever. He is totally convincing. Cornish is just as good and, in both of them, we see the incredible range of emotions as they descend and rise and descend again. One chapter stands above the rest in its emotional power. At one stage Candy becomes pregnant and the couple commit themselves to going "cold turkey" so they can start a new life with their child. They lock themselves in an apartment and travel the incredible journey of withdrawal together -- another indication of their profound love for each other. But things don't go well when an accident occurs and Candy starts to bleed. They rush to the hospital where Candy delivers a stillborn baby. The portrayal of this period by Heath and Cornish tears our hearts to pieces. This is a tough film to watch but we are rewarded by a movie that takes the portrayal of drug addiction into new territory without glamour -- it comes across, in every frame, as the real thing -- warts and all. Candy should collect lots of awards as it travels the cinema circuit. Another indication of the renaissance occuring in Australian cinema. My Rating: ****1/2 Content Warning Frequent drug use; Strong themes; Strong coarse language; Sexual references

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