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Dark and depressing Aussie production Candy (2006) tells a gritty tale of self-degradation where beautiful blonde Abbie Cornish (Somersault) plays emotionally unstable young girl who quickly succumbs to a heroine habit with her unfocused boyfriend (Heath Ledger).
Based on the novel by (film co-writer and ex-addict) Luke Davies Candy follows a familiar path. A young couple shares everything together - the good (love, happiness), the bad (drugs) – while slowly plunging into deprivation. They hit the bottom, struggle, and eventually lose each other. But life goes on and the two slowly begin to realize what drugs have taken away!
Australian director Neil Armfield certainly creates a truthful portrait of what it means to be an addict. An almost philosophical approach to suffering is enhanced by a carefully-built narrative with a strong, notable cameo performance by Geoffrey Rush. Unfortunately, the picture quickly loses direction once the lovers realize what has happened to them.
Prostitution, theft, and extortion, all side effects of the heroine addiction Candy chronicles, bring some unusual strain to the story. The more the audience begins to see from the couple's suffering the less convincing the acting becomes. Furthermore, Heath Ledger's unremitting mumbling is just as tedious as is his inability to put and end to a deadly habit.
What truly sets back Candy however is the awkward pacing of the story. The surprising cuts, intended to highlight different phases from the couple's degradation, feel unnatural and the more the story progresses the more intolerable they become. It is obvious that the manner in which the film is composed has everything to do with the mood from Davis' novel. Yet, something here is simply off!
What Candy lacks is character development. In fact, it is not Cornish or Ledger that save this film from being just another "drug picture" but Rush! Which is rather surprising as his character isn't the focus of attention here. The sweet melancholy oozing from his voice mixed with some sharp and stingy remarks make Candy a tolerable cinematic experience.
I don't know if I could truly like a film about drug addiction. There is just something about people who choose to slowly squeeze life out of their bodies, and their stories, that always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. At least well-told stories always do! After seeing Candy I am thankful that this did not turn out to be another glorifying comic-fest of images (Trainspotting) or a nasty gut-wrenching drama (Requiem for a Dream). Truth be told however Candy isn't nearly as good as the two films referred to above!!
How Does the DVD Look?
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and enhanced for widescreen TVs the image quality on this ThinkFilm produced disc is good. Detail is certainly well-handled, contrast appears at satisfactory level (very good balance between the daylight and night scenes) and edge-enhancement certainly isn't prominent. I noticed some artifacts, particularly during the first half of the film which seem to disappear or becomes less intrusive as the film progresses. Overall however this is indeed a satisfactory presentation that should meet the quality standards by those expecting a quality disc.
How Does the DVD Sound?
Presented with a 5.1 English track the audio quality is solid. Dialog isn't easy to follow, due to Ledger's continuous mumbling, but the clarity of the mix is indeed great. I did not detect any disturbing audio drop-outs of hissing(s). The music soundtrack is also quite well mixed with the dialog. Unfortunately and rather surprisingly the only subtitles option on this DVD is Spanish. English subs have not been provided!
First of all there is a great commentary by the director of the film Neil Armfield and writer Luke Davies. Frankly, I found this to be a much more entertaining piece than the main feature. There is plenty of honest talk here, especially during the second half of the commentary, pertaining to Davis and his past experience on which the film is based upon. There is also a great deal of technical information here supplied by the director of the film. The most important asset of this commentary however is the dissection Davis provides when it comes to addiction. Highly recommended! Next, there is a short segment titled "Writing on the Wall-Candy's Poem in Motion" which provides a portion of Candy's poem seen and read through a collage of images from the film (narrated by Abbie Cornish). Next, there is a rather generic behind the scenes segment titled "Candy: the Path to Wild Abandon" which traces the technical preparation of the film. The piece also addresses the relation between the film and the book by Davis. Finally there is the original theatrical trailer for Candy.
I have some mixed feelings about this film! I saw it twice and the first time I thought that Abbie Cornish provided an incredibly strong performance! The second time around it all felt rather rough and I wasn't touched by the main protagonists and their struggle as much as I expected to be. The pacing of the story certainly had a lot to do with it. See this film, it will perhaps resonate differently with you!