"Heroin - when you can quit you don't want to. When you want to, you
Geoffrey Rush as Professor Obvious in Candy
I really struggled to come up with a short summary for this Australian
"drugs suck" film, and it finally dawned on me. This is a film for people
who like thoughtful films but have not seen very many.
By that I mean that there is absolutely no problem with the quality of
the film. The script is heartfelt and intelligent, the actors are very
talented, and the message is one which is accurate and important. If you
have not seen many films, you'll probably be quite impressed by it.
Of course, most people who would be interested in a serious drama about
heroin addiction have already seen a much better one like The Man With The
Golden Arm, Requiem for a Dream, or Trainspotting, and have probably
also seen some of the lesser achievements like A Hatful of Rain, Sherrybaby
and Down to the Bone. If you have already seen many of those, you can take a
pass on this one because it won't show you anything you haven't seen before.
Consistent with what I have written above, the film has a high IMDb
score, because it's a pretty good movie, but critics didn't much care for it
because ... well, because critics see a lot of films.
How much can you do with this premise? Let's face it, heroin addicts
don't learn to cope with their addiction. There are no "functioning"
junkies, at least not for long. They either quit through a painful process
or keep using until they die. If they keep using, they face a gradual
escalation in their need for the drug concurrent with a gradual decline in
their ability to obtain the money necessary to get it. As a result,
their situation inevitably declines until they turn to crime or prostitution
or both. End of story.
That's about all you can show, except to have the junkies go through
rehab, then relapse, as so many seem to do. The directors inevitably throw
in some unsanitary living conditions, some general squalor, some
ever-alienated friends and relatives, some neglected kids, et Voila! Instant
Only two films have really done something with the premise:
Requiem for a Dream showed that heroin use was just a logical
extension of a society that encourages artificial stimulation through
chemical and non-chemical means. A great deal of the story is shown from the
speeded-up and slowed-down perspective of the various types of drug users,
and some wildly satirical elements are used to make the tragedy even more
Trainspotting used humor and a totally twisted world-view to
propose that heroin addiction, as bad as it may seem, and as certain as it
is to be fatal, is actually better than life in Scotland.
Apart from those two films, all the others are indistinguishable. A year
after seeing both Sherrybaby and Down to the Bone, I have a hard time
remembering which scenes go with which movie. Add Candy to that group as
well. All three of those films are sincere and competent, but I can't
imagine why anyone would want to see them.
The story this time is about two basically likeable arty types, a poet
and a painter, who fall deeply in love with one another and heroin. Needless
to say, things turn out badly. If you have a nice middle-class daughter who
is thinking of getting involved with a guy who has drug problems, have her
watch this film to see that she won't be able to reform him.
Otherwise, why bother?