Thursday, October 19, 2006

CANDY - sex, drugs, uneven tone

Another day, another distinctly underwhelming movie at the London Film Festival. Today's offering is a low-budget independent Australian flick starring Heath Ledger as a junkie poet married to a young painter turned junkie-hooker played by Abbie Cornish. The first third of the movie - entitled Heaven - shows them getting high and getting laid - lots of delirious graphically-shot sex. The second third of the movie drifts from loved-up drug use to bored married drug use. It's almost as though the writer has transposed the bickering of Men Behaving Badly to Australia, except that Caroline Quentin's responsible nurse is now a junkie-hooker who puts the meals on the table and Heath Ledger is the layabout boyfriend. Despite dealing with horrific subject-matter, this middle section of CANDY is - bizarrely - *funny* in tone. Ledger and Cornish are aided in this by the casting of Geoffrey Rush as a Chemistry Professor and part-time cook. It's very odd.

The final third of the movie contains harsh subject matter and the shift in tone is hard to get a handle on. I found it impossible to take these characters seriously in their pain when I had sat laughing with them on a sofa while they injected heroin into their arms a couple of scenes beforehand. And this uneven-ness of tone is what skewers the film in the end. It is no REQUIEM OF A DREAM - it does not make great technical leaps or have an interesting visual style or challenge us with its narrative and performances. And it is no TRAINSPOTTING - it does not successfully blend black humour and the grim reality of drug use. It's just a couple of decent performances in search of a more coherent script and more ambitious direction.

CANDY played Berlin, Toronto and London 2006. It has already been on cinematic release in Greece, Australia, Russia, Portugal and Italy. It opens in the UK on November 3rd and in the US on November 17th. It opens in the Netherlands in January 2007.

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