Who would have thought that after an amazing performance in Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain that Heath Ledger would return to his native Australia and do an independent film? Well for those who did and put long odds on it, you get the prize in the pool. I just wish that after things like Trainspotting, Half Nelson and similar films, this one would have a little more impact than it does.
Candy is written by Luke Davies, and adapted from his book and directed by Ne…l Armfield (Twelfth Night). In the film, Dan (Ledger) and Candy (Abbie Cornish, A Good Year) are a young couple under the influence of heroin. Dan does a wide variety of nothing, and Candy is a bit of a prostitute, and the money that’s collected goes toward their habit. They also have a friend called Casper (Geoffrey Rush, Shine), who helps them out occasionally when they’re in a pickle, be it money or another fix. They even decide to get married and have kids, even though they continue to actively use. In a touching moment, Candy hugs her Dad, and they both sob, as if they both know what the result of it would be.
By no means is this the cheeriest film in the film, and not that it should be since we’re talking about the throes of drug use. And since the immediacy (for me) from Half Nelson, it may be a little bit too much. However to the film’s credit, while the title of the film may be Candy, the focus of the film seems to lie more within Dan. He wants to try and get well, and despite this need, the people around him seem to not really care one way or another. In a key scene near the end, Dan seems to give up on this to some degree before getting shocked back to reality.
The performances themselves are OK. Rush is more than capable in his role, and the pairing of Ledger and Cornish provides for some very interesting moments. Cornish looks a little like Scarlett Johansson with an internal strength that is surprising, and Ledger’s work as Dan helps to carry the picture through.
All you have is a 1.85:1 anamorphic transfer. It looks pretty good, most of the film is rather drab though, so there’s not a lot of color to fawn over.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is focuses mostly on dialogue, and muted stuff at that, but everything sounds OK, even if most of it comes through the center channel. There are a couple of panning effects, so there’s a extra point or two to kick up.
The IFC/Thinkfilm discs put together a decent package of material, starting with a commentary by Armfield and Davies. It’s clear that both are pretty passionate about the material and know what they’re talking about, and it must have felt nice landing the stars that they did. There are some gaps in the commentary, but it’s an overall nice complement to the film. There are a couple of other quick supplements too, the first is on the making of the film, running about ten minutes and featuring interviews with the cast, and the second is a piece that sets one of the poems to action from the film.
Despite the good performances, I couldn’t quite sell myself on the magic of Candy. Its outlook isn’t entirely bleak, but if you want to watch a moderately uplifting tale about drug addicts, the Ryan Gosling film is more affecting than this one. But it’s still worth catching if it airs on TV anywhere.
Special Features List
- Director/Writer Commentary
- Making of Featurette
- “Poetry in Motion”