This is a film that will stay in my mind for a long while. Several times throughout watching it, it suddenly re-hit me that Ledger is no longer with us and it made me ache in a way I hadn't when I first heard he'd died. There's so much to talk about with Candy, but the over-riding aspect of it is the direction.
Some scenes focus on Dan and Candy (Ledger and Abbie Cornish) living in bedsit squalor, strung out, bleak and dark. But other scenes glow with Summer sun-light. From sweeping slow-motion shots of golden corn swaying in the breeze, to the two lovers kissing while the sunlight tickles their faces... it's beautifully languid; it's gorgeous. And all the more bleak for it.
Candy is broken up into 3 parts: Heaven, Earth and Hell. Heaven chronicles their relationship in the beginning, when heroin was a hobby, and when the bulk of their sustenance was sunshine and each other. In any other film, these 2 actors could play the jock and cheer-leader of the high-school so beautiful are they, which makes their inexorable slide into addiction all the more shocking. Earth is where they are bouncing from hit to hit, suffering and in pain, but still able to find themselves again if they tried to look.
When Candy becomes pregnant, they try to go cold turkey, and they are on the very brink of coming out the other side, when she loses the baby. We are shown the still-birth baby when his dad asks to hold him, and the reactions of both Ledger and Cornish will make you curl in on yourself. Tragedy shadows them both from the opening scene, but this event is what makes them really hit rock bottom, at which point we enter the segment entitled Hell. 2 minutes into Hell, I got in my car and went for a drive. I needed to be reminded that the world is beautiful, and that I wasn't alone. Such is this movie's ability to draw you in to the isolated, tiny world of the two protaganists.
Adding to the atmosphere, both beautiful and bleak, is the extraordinary score. With choral music, piano and violin concertos, all of it gentle and moving, Debussy might have scored this film were he still alive. The most poignant violin piece is slightly reminiscent of Adagio for Strings, in some ways. Different melody entirely, but with the same soaring strings that seem to sting your eyes til they inadvertently weep of their own volition.
There are no twists, no turns. No jump out of your skin moments. We are carried along relatively slowly and our intelligence isn't insulted. Candy depicts the cruelties of drug addiction, and it does so exquisitely.