A Critical Review
By Jessica Stalley


Film Information

Year of Production: 2006
Duration: 107 minutes
Tagline: More is never enough
Australian Cinema Release Date: 25 May 2006
Australian DVD release date: 8 November 2006
Format: 35mm
Based On: Luke Davies novel “Candy: a novel of love and addiction”


Principal Crew

Director: Neil Armfield
Writer: Luke Davies (novel), Neil Armfield (screenplay)
Cinematography: Garry Phillips
Producer: Emile Sherman, Margaret Fink
Original Music: Paul Charlier
Editing: Dany Cooper




Principal Cast

Heath Ledger as Dan


Abbie Cornish as Candy Wyatt


Geoffrey Rush as Casper


[No image available]
Tony Martin as Jim Wyatt


Noni Hazlehurst as Elaine Wyatt



Dendy Films
Film Finance Corporation



Madman Films




AFI Awards – Best Adapted Screenplay
Australian Writers Guild – AWGIE for Best Adapted Screenplay
Films Critics of Australia Awards – Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor

Official Trailer

Box Office Figures

During my research I was unable to find sufficient budget figures to satisfy this requirement.

Bibliography of interviews

An interview on “The Movie Show” with Luke Davies and Neil Armfield


Neil Armfield


Luke Davies


Abbie Cornish,22049,19757303-5006011,00.html


Heath Ledger
Bibliography of film reviews

Online Presence

Candy’s on-line presence in web literature is very strong. I was surprised to find so many reviews on the film considering its subject matter. Particularly, there are reviews from not only Australia but also America and Europe, most likely due to Candy’s selection for the Toronto and Berlin film festivals. The Dendy Films site houses a particularly appealing webpage for Candy, with details about the cast and crew as well as trivia from the film. I have included what I believe to be a relevant selection of web literature below.

I found it virtually impossible to unearth any kind of writing concerning this film in books or hard copy, most likely due to the films recent release (2006). As such my bibliography is comprised entirely of web information.


“A beautifully shot film about the seductive, scintillating slide into the self-destruction of heroin addiction…”
From In Film Australia website


Several quotes from reviewers are archived on the Dendy Films website.


Review of the film


Production Notes including a statement from Neil Armfield


From Novel to Film – Candy among other films



Part Two

Critical Review


Candy is a tragic film that begins and ends on a devastating note. We are introduced to Candy (Abbie Cornish), an aspiring painter, and her boyfriend Dan (Heath Ledger), a soulful poet. Quickly we realize that Dan is a full-blown heroin addict and Candy has become his willing follower. Candy is a shocking, extremely realistic portrayal of the descent into addiction and the trail of destruction it leaves. While some films glamorize drug use, this film does the complete opposite, showing what heroin does to a person, and what it leaves behind.

 Candy begins as an eager, talented young woman, on the brink of greatness, until she demands to be allowed to shoot up with Dan, instead of smoking the heroin. In the very beginning of the film Candy almost dies of an overdose from her first experience injecting, but still she keeps on doing it. When the pair run out of money they commit various crimes to bring in more cash – from stealing white goods from houses to prostitution and credit card fraud. When Candy discovers she is pregnant the two – who are married by now - vow to go cold turkey, but even this last shred of salvation is short-lived. After three days without heroin Candy suffers a horrific miscarriage, and due to the advanced stage of her pregnancy is forced to go through labor and deliver the tiny, dead fetus. This scene is shocking enough to dissuade anyone curious about heroin.

 After their baby dies Dan and Candy lose themselves once more in heroin addiction. After one last attempt to go straight they move from Sydney to the Melbourne countryside, begin a methadone problem and generally try to live a normal life. Candy, however, can’t deal with the things that have happened to her and after smoking some potent marijuana with one of the locals she has a mental breakdown and is admitted to a mental hospital by her parents (Noni Hazlehurst and Tony Martin). Dan’s final visit to the hospital marks his own realization that he has been dragging Candy down all this time. After she has recovered Candy attempts to reconcile with Dan but he makes the ultimate sacrifice in order that she might have a chance at a better life without him.

Candy is a difficult film to sit through, dealing with many dark issues, but it is well worth it. The superb performances by the cast make the audience genuinely care for Candy and Dan, and hope that things will turn out for the better. For anyone with hopes and dreams for the future it is a warning to resist temptation, and to seek what is real.  It is a film that is remembered long after the final scene ends.

The majority of criticism that I came across for Candy was positive and encouraging. Audiences were captivated by the beauty displayed throughout the film, both physical and implied. Most reviews focused on the realistic portrayal of addiction and the shocking scenes which drove the message home, in particular the cold turkey sequence which results in the stillbirth of Dan and Candy’s baby.


Prior work of the film makers

Luke Davies originally wrote his debut novel “Candy: A Novel of Love and Addiction” based on his own experiences of heroin addiction in his 20’s.
Neil Armfield first encountered the story of Candy when his producer, Margaret Fink, lent him a copy of Davies’ novel to read. Armfield was impressed, “and decided the story's "sense of possibility, loss and humour" could be translated to the big screen.” Before Candy Davieshad never worked on a film, and Armfield was absent from the film arena for fifteen years, instead focusing on his successful theatre career.



Candy in relation to Australian film genre.

Candy came out just after Little Fish, another film that deals with heroin addiction. Funnily enough, both films starred Noni Hazlehurst as the main character’s pained mother, struggling to get her child off drugs. Candy fits the conventions of a Social Realism film, with its themes of family breakdown, relationships, drugs, poverty and crime. This genre is a popular one for Australian producers, most likely as allows for a smaller budget and more realistic locations, than say, a Hollywood blockbuster or sci-fi adventure film.  Other films in this genre include Suburban Mayhem, Jindabyne, Blackrock and Teesh and Trude.