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If there is any one movie I would ever recommend to discourage someone
from trying Heroin or even to stop someone who is doing it this is the
movie I would show them.
I was somewhat blasé when my girlfriend chose this as our weekly movie that we go see, personally I actually wanted to go see Superman Returns, possibly because it had Heath Ledger in it, possibly because it was just another druggie movie. I'm still not sure whether we should have just gone to see Superman, not because it was a bad movie, quite the opposite. I have to say that this is one of the best movies I have ever seen (and that is quite a claim I know), but I don't think that I could ever see it again.
That said, I would definitely recommend this to you all. It is a brilliant piece, frighteningly realistic, intense and very powerful. I never wanted to try Heroin ever and this film certainly hit that home. If I ever hear someone say they want to try it normally I would just call them an idiot and leave it alone, but now I think I would absolutely go off at them. This movie certainly cannot be accused of glorifying drugs.
Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish totally made this movie their own. Their chemistry is at times absolutely beautiful and wonderful, and at other times frightening and unnerving. The number one feeling this movie left me with was quite uncomfortable and also somewhat disturbed. And that I believe is exactly what this movie was attempting to do, realism at it's best. Berthold Brecht himself couldn't have done better himself.
I've never seen Abbie Cornish in anything else before this, but if her other work is as brilliant as her performance as Candy in this film, point me in it's direction. Abbie was absolutely brilliant, especially in the wide range of emotions and personalities she had to portray.
My one criticism for this film (if you could call it a criticism) is that it may be too realistic (it is almost as if someone had just filmed this couple's life and put it in the cinema) and some scenes could be somewhat disturbing for some people but I believe that is the point of the film. Call it a warning.
I know this isn't exactly the most well written review and I hope it makes sense, but this is one film I have actually been motivated to write a review about and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone.
Despite a couple of good reviews, I approached this film with
foreboding. Movies about junkies in love, taken from searing
autobiographical first novels are usually not what I would call
entertaining, though there have been worthy earlier Australian efforts
such as "Winter of Our Dreams" (with Judy Davis and Bryan Brown) and
"Monkey Grip" (which starred Noni Hazelhurst and Colin Friels). As
"Trainspotting" showed it is possible to be light hearted about drugs
and addiction but the storyline here is far from cheering and there is
no Hollywood-style happy ending. However it did not turn out as
gruesome as I feared it might.
This was partly because of two stunning performances by Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish as the not very happy couple, Dan and Candy. Somehow, Heath got it just right as the shambling, disorganized, would-be poet, who is nonetheless capable of pulling off an effective scam when required. Abbie gave us a beautiful, headstrong and dangerous Candy. Their scenes together are as intense and as convincing as you will get in the movies. They were both well supported by Tony Martin and Nonie Hazlehurst as Candy's parents and Geoffrey Rush as their supplier and friend Casper. Geoffrey Rush is a dangerous actor to use in a supporting role because of his ability to steal scenes, but he produces a wonderfully ambiguous character as a counterpoint to the intensity of the leads.
Caspar makes an interesting remark about drug usage: "When you're on it you don't want to stop, when you want to stop you can't." Artists have particular trouble since they see drugs as feeding creativity. Even so, some people break the habit. I hate to use the term "selfdiscipline" but that and the support of those close to you seem to be crucial factors. Being in love with another addict does not seem to be a great help, for obvious reasons. The Thought Police will be pleased that drug-taking is not glamourised and Dan and Candy's experiences are a mite painful, but the movie does not take a judgmental stance. If we had to have another movie about junkies in love, this is the one.
"Candy" is one of those films where you walk away feeling a little bit
stunned by the awful reality it exposes. It is not a pretty film nor a
pretty subject, but as another "drug" film, at least we can feel an
empathy for the main characters,whilst the horror of heroin addiction
is still depicted.
It is this balance that sets "Candy" apart from many other druggie pics.The love between Candy and Dan is very real. Affectionate, painful,hopeful and hopeless, it transcends the heroin story to the extent where we really hope everything will work out for them; though we're taken on the ride of rapid decline so familiar with this drug.
Much credit for this balance lies with an excellent story and direction from Neil Armfeld (more familiar with theatre in Australia), and some superb acting from Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish in the leads.Geoffrey Rush has a delicious support role as Dan's friend Casper,a "mentor" whom we suspect is a little tormented by his own influences.Tony Martin and Noni Hazelhurst round out the main supports as Candy's suffering parents,loving but helpless as they observe their daughter's descent into a world they never knew.
Like drug problems in real life, all the characters enmeshed in the mess are frail, vulnerable,emotional and ill. They are good and bad.They blame each other and themselves. They look everywhere for solutions that might work,yet we suspect the ultimate solution is too difficult.
I suspect that in years to come,this will become one of the ultimate drug pics to show to teenagers. Not hopeless like Trainspotting,nor in anyway melodramatic like so many others(Clean and sober,28 days etc..), it shows the horrors of drug addiction whilst maintaining its humanity.The ending may be disappointing for some, but it remains true to the love, hope and uncertainty central to this film and to anyone who lives with recovery.
You could write this off as another story about addiction and the
destruction resulting from it, but there's more here. The love story
between Ledger and Cornish is a constant throughout, with a great line
on how their addiction affects not only their own relationship, but
their relationships with others: parents, friends, acquaintances.
Abby Cornish is especially good as the art girl turned junkie prostitute; her fall into addiction and the changes it makes in her life are much more effective than Ledger's portrayal of a junkie in love.
The parents in the movie are excellent, from subtle facial expressions to drag-out fights with their dope fiend daughter. They act much as you would expect parents to act, or at least hope they would act.
The ending dropped the ball a little, but maybe they ran out of budget. In any case, I would watch it again. It's realistic, gritty, romantic and a good case study of how drugs can ruin the most intense love.
Saw this last night at Greater Union, Tuggerah. There were about 10 of
us and only 3 of us loved it..But to put it in perspective, the others
were more keen on seeing Click and The Fast And The Furious: Tokyo
I thought it was a good movie, but lacked some character depth in places. Heath Ledger was good, but it was really Abbie Cornish (so exceptional in Somersault as well) and Geoffrey Rush who were outstanding. Abbie Cornish is amazing as Candy, she truly lives and breathes the role, except in the last scene, where I thought her character didn't really match the emotion shown by Heath Ledger's character. That was Heath's finest scene for me, the way he was able to portray so much emotion without saying anything at all.
Tony Martin and Noni Hazelhurst were good in their small time on screen, but again, the relationship breakdown between Candy and her Mum wasn't really explored which didn't really help when she goes off at her Mum and starts screaming at her for ruining her life..
Great direction by Neil Armfield and this was really a movie about Heath and Abbie's characters dependence on drugs and on each other through their ordeal. Some of the things they do to obtain drugs and the money to buy drugs is shocking, but to them just a necessity to obtain ways and means of getting "a fix".
As good as this movie was, if you liked Candy, please take time to see an earlier Australian movie from a few years ago called Head On by Anna Kikkonos (I think that's her name). It stars Alex Dimitraides and is a much better exploration of the drug scene.
Overall, Candy is a worthy addition to the local Australian cinema and I'm glad I was able to enjoy this movie. Definitely worth a look for the performances by Abbie Cornish, Geoffrey Rush and Heath Ledger
This is a brilliant film featuring an excellent screenplay, outstanding
acting and consummate directing.
It is dark but wonderfully romantic. Most importantly, it is truthful. It is an Australian 'Requiem for a dream' but with far greater depth.
It may not be traditionally commercial but who would have thought a film about two gay cowboys would be commercial?
I say well done to the Producer and the whole team for their work. I would also say that this has inspired me to look at Australian theatre directors for future features.
PS. Abbie and Heath were seamless. So good to see talent like these two working together and doing so in Australia.
David Steinhoff CEO Presence Films Sydney Australia
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this movie yesterday at the berlin film festival. I thought it was absolutely terrific. the theme of drug addiction has been seen before but the actors really elevated this piece into something outstanding.i have never seen the actress before but i knew heath ledger and was fairly impressed with him. brokeback mountain hasn't been released in Germany just yet, but judging on ledgers performance in this movie i'm even more excited to see it soon. Rush was pretty good too, but this film really belongs to the lead actors. most devastating to me was the scene when candy miscarried. it was really shocking and moving at the same time. There's no happy ending here (predictably)but i still found the film to be very rewarding to watch. definitely worth seeing!
What a gripping film this is, not because of the enormous tragedy of
its characters, but because of their goodness. Another user suggested
''Trainspotting'' meets ''Romeo + Juliet'' which I believe is an apt
summary of Neil Armfield's Aussie gem Candy the kind of film that
takes you and shakes you with harrowing bleak portrayals juxtaposed
with the euphoric state of romance. Although it is not devoid of
faults, the film trumps most other films I've seen this year at the
Stockholm Film Festival because of sheer emotional impact.
But Candy opens on a hypnotic note of false security; lovable slacker Dan (Heath Ledger) and bohemian art student Candy (Abbie Cornish) indulge in drug-induced games, smiling, laughing, kissing, even playing with children. In the next scene Candy almost ODs in the bathtub, and the film bravely swoops down and offers us a look at something infinitely more unpleasant: drug addiction. Indeed, 'Candy' was largely being advertised as a romance for reasons I cannot pretend to understand, other than perhaps the shock factor in abandoning gushy romance for a bruised reality. The truth of the matter is that it offers one of the most unflinching looks into seedy junkie lives since Reqiuem For a Dream.
The cast give fine and sometimes even excellent performances. Geoffrey Rush lends his dutiful Aussie charm to the supporting role of an 'accidental mentor' of sorts to Dan and Candy "the father I always wanted, the one who buys you fizzy drinks and candy", remarks Dan in the introduction and we thereby know early on that his character is perhaps not a flawless or ethical one. Ledger is constantly pending between likable and loser in the film, and it is thanks to his apt narrative of events that he remains so well centred in the heart of 'Candy' (which should rightfully be titled 'Dan'). As a clever technique by first-time director Armfield, Ledger's soft-spoken narrative becomes punctured, mercilessly abandoning us in a time when we need it the most when the seedy circumstances become too dire.
But the big surprise is Abbie Cornish who is now regrettably stirring up more buzz with the Phillippe-Witherspoon split than with her remarkably bruised performance as the tragic heroine, Candy. She captures the escalating despair, desperation and nihilism of her character effortlessly and translates it with great emotional transparency. Soon she has resorted to full-time prostitution to get money for hits, and it is just heartrending. In particular there is a poignant and emotional scene with Candy and her father embracing after a shocking bit of news that cements the chaos Dan and Candy have gotten themselves in.
Interestingly enough, 'Candy' is explicitly divided into three titled segments that pop up on the screen: heaven, earth and hell and it does a great job at portraying all three, uninhibitedly navigating the contrasts that form at their transitions. The soft-spoken words, love-making, drug-induced romantic euphoria and intimate caressing of the 'heaven' segment render 'hell' all the more harrowing, although I must remark that I found 'earth' to be by far the most graphic and difficult to watch. This can best be attributed to the scenes in which Dan and Candy try to lose their heroin addictions and lay suffering for days on a mattress, Trainspotting-style.
In the end, 'Candy' remains much like its peers, a cautionary tale of the horrors of drug life and how addiction can mess you up, and mess with relationships. Although there are few discernible flaws that jump out and grab you, the attempted humour simply isn't in-tune and it is needed as a tension-easer at times. Owing to this, Candy sadly offers little light at the end of the tunnel and it is far too easy to lose yourself in the gloom hopelessness. Yet most of this is compensated for by great performances of intrinsically good people that you cannot help rooting for, as Dan says: "Everything we ever did we did with the best of intentions."
8 out of 10
'Candy' will probably garner several AFI awards later this year. Ledger is Dan, a troubled and likable juvenile-come-poet who is in love with Cornish's Candy, a sometimes-practicing artist who falls head first in love with Dan and heroin. Ledger's understated performance gives Dan a boyish vulnerability that would otherwise leave him less sympathetic. And his ability to use his face and especially his eyes to communicate Dan's uncanny reluctance is both staggering and understandable. There are many moments where silence is used to express emotions in this film and Armfield deserves to be commended for his restraint and trust in his actors and the narrative. The script by co-writer and author Davies is decidedly different from the novel but nonetheless strong and taut. It's rarely melodramatic and has been manipulated more for it's performers and their execution on screen rather than resigning itself as merely an adaptation of a great novel. The result here provides superb cinematic balance. Cornish too is brilliant, often abrasive as the troubled artist. Rush is also amazing and understated as Casper, Dan's older homosexual friend. Hazelhurst reprises her role in 'Little Fish' but to less effect. She is great, but those who have seen 'Little Fish' will find her casting a little too convenient. Martin too is good with the little he is dealt. The only thing that stops 'Candy' from being superb is the material. It is too familiar and the characters are too stereotypical. Had this film been made before countless others in the 'drug-film' genre this would have been more refreshing (although the denouement is a much welcomed change). But sadly it isn't. This in turn is nobody's fault. It's just been exploited too many times. The only thing that isn't stereotypical is Dan who is the backbone of the narrative. Ledger has made it his own and could have mimicked any drug-stricken angsty protagonist the 'genre' has spat out. Instead he has made him a hero.
Amazing but harsh Candy is 'Trainspotting' meets 'Romeo and Juliet'. Opening with a haunting melody and the two lovers on a fairground ride it feels very picturesque and idealistic, but that doesn't last very long I'm afraid. Mixing poetic voice-overs and montages of the pair involved in each other as the world orbits around them they are so in love and oblivious and addicted. Told in a triptych the first third of the film is called 'heaven' and deals with the honeymoon period of the relationship, the second third is called 'earth' and deals with the start of the end and it doesn't take a genius to work out that the third is called 'hell' and is just that. Candy and Dan are addicted to each other and addicted to heroin. They steal, lie, cheat and wheel and deal, whatever it takes to get the cash they need for the next fix, but when the fixes are few and far between there becomes no limit to how far they will go. Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish are brilliant as the arm spiked lovers who both brood with an intensity that shines out when they are acting being on drugs or the brutal scenes when they are trying to come off them. They are mesmerising to watch and at all times you either hate them for how much they are destroying each other or empathise with them for what they are going through. You can't help but go through the experience with them because it is so graphic and not unlike the needles gets right under your skin. Geoffrey Rush who plays a strange semi-gay drugged up Uncle Monty type character, who not only supplies but manufactures some of the drugs for the pair and even shoots up with them, is very unnerving as the father figure Dan always wanted but never had. Even the later part of the last third, despite its nature, still holds elements of beauty and I would be surprised if there was a dry eye in the house as the film reaches its climax. If you ever wanted a way to show children the evils of drugs then show them this film, it never glorifies the use of substances and if anything it is garishly honest all the way through, although not an easy watch it is an amazing portrayal of the power that addictions, good or bad, can hold and just how far humans are capable of going for love. This really is a journey into the heart of darkness.
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