Candy is another unpleasant look at the world of drug abuse, but at least this time the addicts are pretty to watch.
Following the Luke Davis novel to the letter, the story is narrated by Dan (Heath Ledger), a poet, a lover, a bohemian who seems to have everything going for him until he meets Candy (Abbie Cornish). She is an art student who tries to gain his attention by joining him in shooting up. Not only is she a metaphor for heroin addiction, she is a stunningly beautiful seductress. Quickly their idyllic love becomes overshadowed by the dregs of addiction, which turns Candy into a prostitute and Dan into a con artist. Friends around them try to help the impossibly sexy couple, including her desperate parents (Noni Hazlehurst and Tony Martin) and a wealthy businessman named Casper (Geoffrey Rush), who supports their bohemian life so he can live vicariously through them. Casper is a functional addict, a university professor who's smart enough to know that their chemically-induced world will soon come crashing down on them all.
Ledger's played the gay role (Brokeback Mountain), the period role (Casanova), and now the druggie role, continuing to establish himself as a superb actor. But it's Cornish (A Good Year) who is going to get rave notices. She is luminescent in every scene, even when hospitalized for her addiction. And the two actor's chemistry together have an intensity that goes beyond the screen, providing for some pretty steamy sex scenes, including some pretty voluptuous swimming scenes shot underwater. Rush as the overly-supportive friend, and Candy's hand-wringing parents are played as one-note characters despite the overwhelming talent of the performers.
Australian director Neil Armfield adapted this story with the help of the novelist and uses some of the best talents from Down Under. He doesn't fall to animated gimmicks or other tricks used in similarly-themed films, but instead allows the camera to be the overseer of the addiction. He uses the camera, for example, to show the couple from above when they enter an amusement park ride, and then closes in on their faces as they feel the powerful thrusts of the ride. Set up in sections of ''Heaven,'' ''Earth'' and ''Hell,'' the various chapters of the movie get expectedly more horrific for the perfect pair. Thankfully, it's not as obscenely depressing as Requiem for a Dream or as brutal as Trainspotting, and although the metaphors abound, it's not a hit-over-your-head lesson about the dangers of drugs. Armfield keeps Candy intensely private and low-key as a good romance story should be.
Hollywood.com rated this film 2 stars.