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CANDY

Director: NEIL ARMFIELD

AUSTRALIA • 2006 • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 108 MIN


OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES FROM HEATH LEDGER AND ABBIE CORNISH (SHOWING THAT SOMERSAULT WAS NO FLUKE) KEEP THIS CHRONICLE OF ADDICTION ROOTED IN THE PERSONAL, LARGELY EVADING THE CLICHES OF THE ‘DRUG MOVIE’ FORMULA.
There’s the initial rush, of course, which is all sunlight and youthful passions, before the routine of scoring puts Cornish on the streets to pay for their heroin, whereupon their slide into total abjection proves chastening enough to encourage them to kick the habit. A familiar pattern, then, but it could hardly be otherwise given the substances involved. Yet the freshness of the film lies more in its nose for the recesses of character, how the junk’s there to fill the yearning absences the past has left painfully unresolved. Cornish eventually confronts her demons in scenes of searing rawness which still seem a surprise coming from this figure of such doe-like delicacy, but Ledger’s damped-down precision is almost as striking—by showing so little, he somehow tells us everything.
Director Neil Armfield’s stage experience in Australia perhaps explains the excellence of the acting here— there’s also another standout from Geoffrey Rush as a university professor who likes to take his chemicals home with him—though his film is visually thought-through too, with adept shifts in the colour palette reflecting the couple’s downward spiral, and a strikingly portentous opening sequence at a Sydney funfair. The fact we also get to hear Tim Buckley’s ‘Song to the Siren’ twice counts as a seductive bonus to a film that’s already confidently achieved. —Trevor Johnston.

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