Highs and Lows

'Candy' is chock full of prettiness and drugs and poetry and feelings and nipples

The thing about heroin is that really, really pretty people take it, or so the movies would have us believe. Like, in Candy, Abbie Cornish and Heath Ledger, who are the third and 42nd most beautiful people in the world and the first and 13th most beautiful people in Australia, play young lovers who like to take heroin and then make love.

Earlier, Abbie Cornish starred in Somersault, a super-pretty movie about a young girl who falls in love and has special emo feelings. In Candy, she plays a young girl who falls in love and has special emo feelings and takes heroin. She can do this sort of thing, because even when no one's filming her, she's in soft focus while trilling acoustic guitars play symphonies of love and longing as she walks down the streets of Melbourne with her kangaroo.

Plus, Cornish is not only incredibly pretty; she's also the palest person on Earth. She so white and pretty that looking at her is like looking at the sun: If you do it too long, you go blind, but you're glad you're blind, because you've just stared at the thing that provides light and warmth and life for the entire Earth.

Which is cool, because at one point in Candy, the word "Earth" appears on the screen against a black background, which is symbolic of the fact that Candy takes place on Earth. Also, while Candy is your basic heroin-emo-indie-jangle-folk movie, it's also a pretty good heroin-emo-indie-jangle-folk movie. On my usual rating scale of: no stars, tomato, thumb, aquatic mammal, 7.5, pubic hair, I'd give Candy an otter or porpoise or manatee.

Part of what makes Candy good is that both Ledger and Cornish are actually decent actors. In fact, Cornish is incredibly convincing as a naïve young woman who descends into drug use, madness and special naked love scenes. The other strong aspect of Candy is that the script does not suck.

This is strange, because there's a lot of poetry in the script. Normally, when someone recites poetry that was written especially for a movie, it sounds like poetry that was written especially for a movie, or, in other words, poetry that was written by someone who's never read any poetry but it is pretty sure that poetry is the first thing that comes into your head when you think about unicorns and that boy who hurt your feelings in fifth-grade.

The script for Candy, though, was drawn from the novel by Luke Davies, an actual poet who understands that poetry is difficult to write and requires things like "talent" and "basic knowledge of language." So when Cornish as the titular Candy starts spouting off in dreamy free verse, it's neither embarrassing nor painful nor the kind of thing that Maya Angelou would vomit forth during a presidential inauguration.

The story begins with Candy and Dan (Ledger) getting on an amusement-park whirly ride, because their love is like a whirly whirly ride. Then they touch noses and kiss with their pretty lips and have special shirtless time together and do special pretty heroin and twirl around and around and around, just like love does. But then they run out of money for heroin, and Candy has to let ugly men put their dingles in her hoo-hoo so she can afford more drugs, which is sad. But then Dan reads an E.E. Cummings poem to her and so they take a shower and get engaged and spend more shirtless time together and are pretty.

But then things look bad when Dan takes heroin at his own wedding, and Candy's parents think that this is not as good of an idea as Dan does, and so Candy and Dan go to McDonald's, and they say, "We're the coolest people at McDonald's," which is totally true and a special feeling to have. Then they go home and are happy and shirtless, but their shirtless happiness doesn't last, because heroin is very, very bad for you. So Dan has to go have male homosexual prostitution sex which proves that drugs are so evil that they make you gay.

Then there's some crying and detoxing and lots of voiceover from Ledger which makes it seem like he's the main character, which is kind of the only major flaw in the film because actually the plot is really about Candy but Dan is the narrator until finally Candy gets to narrate a very long scene where she talks about being "wet-thighed with surrender," and there's more sorrow and feelings happen and people cry.

The film also stars Geoffrey Rush as Candy and Dan's friend Casper, a chemist who makes really good heroin, but not good in a moral sense, since heroin is evil. Plus, the film is shot with soft colors and filled with twinkly music and has the special perfectness that only Australian beautiful people on heroin have, which is better than God because of the nipples.

The pretty, pretty nipples.

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