Candy

I went with Tony tonight to see “Candy”, the new film starring Heath Ledger (Dan), Abbie Cornish (Candy), Geoffrey Rush, Tony Martin and Noni Hazlehurst, enjoying it immensely. The movie begins and ends with Candy and Dan at an amusement park. The ride is like one of those instruments used in medicine which rely on centrifugal force to separate the different elements of blood. A good motif for the movie, because blood, not surprisingly is a recurrent theme and image.

The movie is based, I understand, fairly loosely on a novel by Luke Davies, published in 1977. Although I haven’t actually read the novel and I came to this movie without any pre-conceived ideas, I knew heroin was an important part of the movie. Images of “Trainspotting”, “Little Fish” and “Monkey Grip” (which also featured Noni Hazlehurst) came to mind.

As with “Trainspotting”, the highs and lows of heroin abuse are shown. There were occasions, for example, when I had to cover my face, as I’ve never been one for injections. There was also an upsetting scene associated with Candy’s miscarriage. But I have to say, honestly, having seen cold-turkey scene in “Trainspotting”, the similar sequence in this film wasn’t nearly as distressing as I thought it might be.

Although the film is very moving, it’s not entirely distressing. The use of the first-person narrator, which gave the movie a certain “Secret Life Of Us” quality, gives you some hope throughout these two very engaging characters will make it through, gain some of the wisdom they need to get through life.

Heath Ledger is absolutely fantastic in this movie, bringing a humanity to the role which emerges throughout the movie, leading to a real sense of character development. There were times, however, when I thought Abbie Cornish over-acted, resulting in a degree of confusion about Candy’s identity. I couldn’t decide if it was childhood abuse, mental illness, heroin abuse, or just plain immaturity that was Candy’s problem. Although on one-level, you could interpret that as Cornish giving a multi-layered performance, I just thought she was confused about why Candy was the way she was. She lacks the character development that you might expect, especially as she emerges at the end of the film as if nothing had happened. Again, you could read something deep into that, but I suspect it’s just not there.

Nonetheless, it was a very good movie and one I suspect I’ll remember for quite some time. Seeing the movie in Newtown, in particular, was quite interesting, if only to recognise a large number of locations used in the film shot entirely around Sydney. I couldn’t help but feel, however, for the owner of the nearby pawn-shop which figures prominently early in the movie as the location where Candy first has sex for money. I don’t imagine his shop will become quite the drawcard, for example, that Videodrama became after featuring in “Muriel’s Wedding”.

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