In my hay days, I’ve had my share of interest in junkie literature and films, from beat generation novels and poetry to Trainspotting and Requiem for a Dream. Now, the tables have turned and I look upon junkie fiction (with a few exceptions) as childish manifestations of authors or filmmakers who refuse to grow up and get over their teenage escapism.
The recent junkie film I’m referring to is Candy, a complete failure of the genre. Supposed to be a love story spiced with junk, dramatic and heart throbbing, rebellious and realistic, it manages to put through none of the above. The characters are mere cardboard silhouettes, they don’t have sufficient substance to make us believe in their drama.
If Requiem for a Dream and Trainspotting had higher stakes than simply glorifying junk experience, it is very hard to perceive the higher message of Candy. All these movies are based on novels, but although I haven’t read the novel Candy is based on, I can easily notice that probably a great deal of the substance of the story has been lost in the translation from literature to film. Unlike Requiem for a Dream and Transpotting, Candy is simply not cinematic and it lacks the touches of a strong directorial hand.
Great actors have made their contribution to making this film a complete failure. The problem is not that the actors were bad, but they simply lacked direction. It is impossible to identify with the characters. Perhaps the most obvious moment of lack of identification is the scene in which a hysterical Candy reproaches her parents the fact that she has been “clenching her fists” all her life. This happens completely out of the blue and as if anybody cared.
Compared to Little Fish, another recent Australian junkie movie, Candy is extremely immature and lacking direction and substance. I think that in order for junkie movies to have a future and an audience consisting not only of cool teenagers, they must grow up. Little Fish manages to do just that, it is the elegantly acted and directed story of a former junkie struggling to cope with “the real world.” Candy, on the other hand, is nothing but an incomplete, thinly directed excuse of movie, which attempts to use junkie drama in order to bring out some dramatic performances from a few good actors and unfortunately fails even in this attempt.