This week’s addiction film is Candy
This particular film, adapted from Luke Davies’ novel "Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction", follows a pair of young lovers as they go through three main stages of addiction.
The Australian movie stars Heath Ledger as Dan, a young poet living a bohemian lifestyle, and Abbie Cornish as Candy, an art student fascinated with Dan and his lifestyle. In the film Dan, who is a heroin user, and Candy fall in love as Candy begins to gravitate towards using heroin.
The story chronicles their relationship as well as their drug use through its stages of oblivion, self-destruction, and despair. In a very interesting style of story-telling, the film is cut into 3 separate acts titled Heaven, Earth, and finally Hell. Each act focuses on a different point in their relationship and a different stage in their combined addiction.
Heaven depicts the young lovers in a wondrous and carefree state, floating through life, taking drugs and having sex as if nothing else in the world mattered to them. They befriend an eccentric university professor Casper, played by Geoffrey Rush, who supplies them with money for heroin, and interesting semi-quasi conversation. In Earth, the two get married and the realities of addiction and family begins to sink in. To afford their drug habit, Candy begins to prostitute while Dan steals.
Candy soon becomes pregnant, and despite their combined vow to “go clean” the baby is delivered “still born.” After agonizing withdrawal, depression, and tremendous effort, they finally kick their heroin addiction and despite all their hardships their relationship remains strong.
Through Hell, the final act, Dan and Candy move out to the countryside and give methadone a try as a way to ease into a normal life. Their relationship is heavily strained in this act and, at their first Sunday lunch with Candy’s parents who judge the pair and blame Dan for how Candy is living.
Furious, Candy breaks down and demands her parents leave, and the couple begin to see their relationship is flawed and cracks are beginning to form. Candy eventually gets involved with one of their neighbors, who is a drug user, and relapses to her previous lifestyle. Due to the tremendous stress, Candy experiences a mental breakdown and becomes increasingly distant towards Dan.
Seeking friendly guidance Dan returns to the city to visit Casper, only to find the university professor deceased from a drug overdose. This sight forces Dan to reconsider the choices he has made, and his current life, while Candy is sent to a clinic by her parents to recover from her relapse and breakdown. While she remains in the clinic, Dan gets clean and is able to hold down a job as a dishwasher.
After months Candy returns clean and finds Dan, and while he is still unwaveringly in love with her, he recognizes their relationship was based on heroin, and the two can no longer be together or he risks dragging her back into addiction.
The film features many great scenes, some hard to watch, and some wholeheartedly innocent, using a combination of imagery and a collection of down-tempo music to depict the couple's feelings throughout the story. While ending on somewhat of an uplifting note, it does a fantastic job showing how tough recovery and staying clean can be.