Split into three parts, entitled ‘Heaven’, ‘Earth’ and ‘Hell’, (a nod to Dante’s Inferno, Candy details the episodic descent of wannabe poet and intravenous heroin user Dan (Heath Ledger) after he falls in love with aspiring artist Candy (Abbie Cornish). Soon she is smoking his drug of choice and their downward spiral commences with occasional visits to see Svengali figure Casper (Geoffrey Rush), an eccentric gay chemistry professor.
There is nothing harder to do well on screen than a picaresque drama about drug addiction. The main problem is being able to convey the sense of addiction without falling into cliché. Only a handful of films, noticeably Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream, have done this successfully since the adventures of motorcycling hippies Fonda and Hooper in Easy Rider. Neil Armfield’s (Twelth Night, The Castanet Club) first film in 15 years struggles with this dilemma but, despite good performances and excellent cinematography, this is a struggle that the filmmaker loses.