Heath Ledger As Drug Addict

Hot off his Oscar-nominated performance in Brokeback Mountain, Heath Ledger’s next film was a small indie flick about a doomed romance between two desperate junkies. Candy stars Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight) and Abbie Cornish (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) as tragic lovers caught in the destructive throes of heroin addiction.

Director Neil Armfield’s harrowing tale of love and dysfunction also includes Geoffrey Rush as a featured player. Based on Luke Davies’ semi-autobiographical novel of the same name, compelling performances from its stars and strangely endearing characters make for a haunting indie flick.

Dan (Heath Ledger) falls in love with Candy (Abbie Cornish), a beautiful young painter attracted to his wayward bohemian lifestyle. A poet by trade, Dan is a full-blown heroin addict that draws Candy into his drug problems. Alternating between oblivion and ecstasy, their relationship takes several tragic turns as the young lovers’ entire world revolves around scoring heroin for a quick fix. Dan pushes Candy into turning tricks for money. Candy’s parents are heartbroken over their daughter’s rapidly disintegrating life.

…a testament to Ledger’s skill as an actor that the handsome leading man perfectly fits as a miserable junkie

Geoffrey Rush plays Casper, a mentor and father figure to the young Dan. The chemistry professor has a drug habit of his own, feeding the young couple’s most destructive tendencies when their own families turn their back on them.

A powerful portrait of drug addiction and dependency, there’s a humane aspect to Candy’s depiction lacking in Requiem for a Dream. Both Dan and Candy are put through awful things and perform terrible deeds, but it’s a sympathetic and understanding portrayal. Cornish is searing in her performance, matching and even surpassing Ledger. Their remarkable chemistry is palpable without feeling staged.

It’s a testament to Ledger’s skill as an actor that the handsome leading man perfectly fits as a miserable junkie failing at life. Hollywood lost a major talent when the Australian actor succumbed to a drug overdose only two years after Candy. There’s rich irony in his death after making the indie drama.

Video

Despite the presence of huge Hollywood stars like Heath Ledger, Candy was a sleepy little Australian production. The 2006 movie’s picture quality gives off a low-budget indie vibe with its flat and largely lifeless cinematography. That includes soft and even out-of-focus scenes. This is clearly an older and dated HD transfer struck years ago, even as far back as the late 2000s.

Released by Shout Factory, the main feature runs nearly 108 minutes on a BD-50. The 1.85:1 presentation is presented at 1080P resolution, encoded with high-bitrate AVC. The new encode is free of compression issues and handles the film’s murky grain.

The transfer itself isn’t fantastic. There’s no evidence of heavy processing. However, the soft scan looks dated with limited fidelity and fine detail. The elements are in good condition without any real issues.

Flesh-tones are pale and almost washed out. The contrast is consistent but weak. It could be punched up for more pleasing video. There’s little proper color saturation as the palette looks dull. The movie badly needs a new color grading after someone gives it a high-quality 2K or 4K scan.

Audio

The good news is that Shout Factory has included both the 5.1 surround audio and stereo audio. The bad news is that Candy’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA is largely a dialogue-driven affair with minimal surround activity. Some minor ambiance leaks into the rears and the surround mix helps expand the score’s soundstage. This is not a dynamic mix and dialogue occasionally goes soft. About the only moment worth mentioning in the soundtrack is when Sixto Rodriguez’s cult classic Sugar Man starts playing over a scene.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font. The secondary 2.0 DTS-HD MA audio is a fine-sounding alternative if your home theater can’t swing the surround track.

Extras

Candy (2006) is #95 in Shout Factory’s Shout Select line of catalog Blu-ray releases. They port all the special features from the original THINKFilm DVD, though nothing new is added. The Blu-ray is coded for Region A. A longer cut of the film does exist but has never been publicly released for rating purposes.

Candy has been released across the world by different distributors on both DVD and Blu-ray. Cast interviews, deleted scenes, and other featurettes can be found on these international releases that are missing below. It has been released on Blu-ray in at least two other territories, Germany and the UK.

Audio Commentary With Director Neil Armfield And Writer Luke Davies – Original novelist and co-screenwriter Luke Davies basically interviews Neil Armfield about his filmmaking decisions. A lot of ground is covered, from casting decisions to Armfield mimicking French director Truffaut in certain scenes. Not a thrilling discussion but provides some insight into the creative process behind the movie.

Candy: The Path To Wild Abandon Featurette (09:12 in upscaled HD) – A making-of featurette that delves into the differences between the film and novel, among other topics. Director Neil Armfield, novelist Luke Davies, and all three lead stars contribute interview clips. Fairly insightful moments include learning that Geoffrey Rush’s character was expanded from the novel.

Writing On The Wall: Candy’s Poem In Motion (02:22 in upscaled HD) – The linchpin of the final act, Candy’s poem narrated by Abbie Cornish, comes to life set to music and clips from the film.

Candy Theatrical Trailer (01:50 in upscaled HD) – Presented in a windowboxed format.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Candy
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Haunting lead performances by Heath Ledger and Abbie Cornish make for a tragic but memorable love story in the Australian film, Candy.

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