Dan (Heath Ledger) loves Candy (Abbie Cornish). Candy loves Dan. They both love heroin - the drug of choice for bohemian art school grads who presumably haven't seen Trainspotting, Requiem for a Dream, or Christiane F any of the ever-longer litany of modish cautionary tales which fill up the DVD shelves.
Maybe every generation of reckless young folk needs its own alarm call, but unless you've led a very sheltered life there's not much here you won't have seen already. That's the problem with junkie movies; they all follow exactly the same pattern - which Candy writer-director Neil Armfield superfluously annotates as Heaven, Earth, and Hell.
As you would expect, the Heaven section is the most fun to watch: two sexy young actors turning on, shooting up in a carwash, what's not to like? (Please, don't answer that.) When money's short, they pop off to see uncle Casper (Geoffrey Rush), a homosexual chemistry professor whose hedonistic pursuits do not preclude philanthropy - along with a smidgeon of philosophy: 'When you can stop you don't want to,' he muses. 'When you want to, you can't.' And so it proves.
Things come to Earth with a bump after the two lovebirds get hitched (they shoot up at the reception and Dan passes out mid-conversation with his new father-in-law). Their appetite now exceeding even Casper's generosity, Candy takes to turning tricks, an arrangement Dan adjusts to easily enough, but which causes resentment over the longer term. Why doesn't he get his arse in gear, Candy wants to know? Dan considers it, and turns to thieving instead.
Hell, you don't want to know about, but involves pregnancy, the inevitable cold turkey sequence, and other staple set-pieces of the genre, augmented with a bonus nervous breakdown number from the attractive up-and-comer Cornish.
Okay, so it's probably a bit cheap to be so cynical. Maybe it's a blind spot on my part, but I've never understood the entertainment value of watching addicts degrade themselves. Actors, of course, relish the opportunity for such a visceral workout, and Cornish and Ledger don't disappoint on that score - but does their co-dependency really translate into the tragic love story Armfield was obviously shooting for? It's there the movie comes up short.