No Invention, No Subtext, No Point
from Brighton, England
, 17 Apr 2007
How on earth did this film garner such inexplicably praiseful plaudits on the festival circuit last year? You can colour me entirely baffled.
The studio's plot synopsis remains genuinely intruiging, but the film proper appears to have excised all of this potentially interesting material; namely, the dynamic it claims to examine between the titular character (stitched up by her attraction to the bohemian lifestyle, apparantly) and Ledger's dozy poet.
That, at the very least, sounds like something worth exploring.
But instead, we are given film that is so painfully familiar and uninventive that I can genuinely tell you, with all sincerity, that there is absolutely no reason to watch it.
The two central performances shine brilliantly for the first half hour or so; after that, we're treated to the rather nauseating display of two talented actors trying ferverishly to out-twitch eachother.
The main problem though, is that the movie has no narrative drive. We start in hell, and (despite the film's attempt to shoe-horn in periodic 'Heaven', 'Hell' and 'Earth' titlecards that have absolutely no bearing on the content of the story, and are, as an idea, clearly cribbed from Aronofsky's Requiem adaptation) we don't once move out of the pits. After barely 15 minutes of running time, and a surfeit of characterisation and/or plot, Candy is already driven to prostituting herself to fund her habit. Where can the film possibly go after that? I'd tell you, but you already know, surely?
As the film plummets ever deeper into misery and predictable squalor, fewer and fewer surprises are encountered, and the mind can't help but wander to the superior movies that this one can't help but reference.
Annoyingly, there is the odd excellent scene (for example, the frenzied, buzzy sequence in the bank brilliantly evokes the nervy excitement and brazen amorality of life on the fringes) but it is always quickly followed by a plot point so brain-fryingly soapy that any positive momentum is quashed immediately. *SPOILER* After the guilty euphoria of the bank episode, Ledger's character returns home to find out that Candy is pregnant with his child. Strewth! Where is THAT story going to end up? I'd tell you, but you already know, surely? *END SPOILER*
And to add insult to injury, it looks like utter hell; with its bland, studio-lit sets and washed-out cinematography, it looks like a gently bleached version of Home and Away.
The screenplay is no great shakes either; strictly join-the-dots plot wise, it also employs drab, repetitive, naturalistic dialogue that does evoke a certain realism, but serves to make all of the characters, bar none, completely uninteresting and unlikeable.
Go and rent Drugstore Cowboy or Christiane F instead of this well intentioned, but totally empty hackjob of lazy cod-soapery.
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