Director: Neil Armfield
Based on the novel by Luke Davies, Neil Armfield’s beautifully tragic film haunted me for days after I first saw it. Divided into three parts aptly named Heaven, Earth, and Hell, the film tells the story of Dan, a young aspring poet (Heath Ledger) who meets a beautiful art student, Candy (Abbie Cornish in a star-making performance) only for the two to fall not only completely in love with each other but with heroin as well. Beginning in Sydney, Australia, we first meet the two young lovers at their happiest spending their days swimming, visiting amusement parks (in a scene that pays homage to The 400 Blows) and going through car washes stoned with their habit often fed by a chemistry professor, Casper (Geoffrey Rush). Soon, their addiction and relationship spirals out of control as they become more dependent on the drug and Candy goes from call girl to streetwalker until an ultimate nervous breakdown when they move to Melbourne to try and get clean with the aid of methadone. The film is an unnerving portrait of addiction and the way that it replaces one's true personality-- turning whole and passionate individuals into obsessed junkies and making them act in ways they’ve never imagined. While it does reach melodrama in the third segment, it will no doubt grip viewers without letting go until the conclusion, however I still found myself yearning for a bit more of the back-story that would have been available in the book. The film earned awards and played as an official selection at festivals around the globe and also did extraordinarily well in its native Australia when award season rolled around. Like Requiem for a Dream, it’s difficult to stomach, but an important film made all the more relatable by natural cinematography and outstanding performances by the two leads.