by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

"Heroin - when you can quit you don't want to. When you want to, you can't."

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 junkie film.

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 tragic.

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?

DVD info: Candy DVD Abbie Cornish Heath Ledger Widescreen (2006)
  • Full-length director's commentary
  • Widescreen anamorphic transfer
  • Featurette: "The writing on the wall Candy's poem in motion"
  • Featurette: "The path to wild abandon"

Click on the image below for more info:

Candy DVD Abbie Cornish Heath Ledger Widescreen (2006)


It was nominated for an Oscar for cinematography.

3 James Berardinelli (of 4 stars)
67 British Consensus  (of 100)
51 Rotten Tomatoes  (% positive)
57 (of 100)


7.0 IMDB summary (of 10)


Box Office Mojo. There was no market for it in the United States. It was only in twelve theaters and didn't even do well in those twelve, grossing less than $50,000 altogether.

It had some success overseas, grossing nearly two million dollars.


  • Heath Ledger shows his butt once.
  • Abbie Cornish shows her breasts in several scenes. For fans of celebrity nudity, the exposure of this beautiful Aussie actress is the single most compelling reason to see or own the film.


Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


It is a good movie, but a total downer, and covers ground which has already been covered better elsewhere.