WRI/DIR: Aoife McArdle • PRO: Sally Campbell, Andrew Freedman • DOP: Steve Annis • ED: Dan Sherwen • MUS: Jon Clarke • DES: Andy Kelly • CAST: Ann Skelly, Caitriona Ennis, Ryan Lincoln, Conall Keating, John Lynch
Kissing Candice is a stunning and energetic film, as manically confused as its titular character. This is definitely not the romantic comedy it sounds like – nor is it a film for the masses. However, there is a great deal in this hour and forty minutes to please the complex pallet of your average arthouse aficionado.
Based in a border town, the plot is loosely centred around a bored teen called Candice (Skelly). I say loosely because the narrative weaves in and out of the many side-characters’ unfinished arcs, before ultimately tying itself into a knot. But no spoilers.
Candice falls for the devilishly handsome rogue Jacob (Lincoln) after he, along with his gang of disaffected youths, attempt to put her in the boot of their car. Young love. It isn’t long until this budding romance brings conflict between both Candice and her detective dad, Donal (Lynch), and Jacob and his unhinged crew. Candice’s mental health begins to deteriorate, as the tension between these sparring factions ramps up.
There’s a distinctive style to this production that leans towards the artistry; a mesh of the moody Hannibal TV series with nods to David Lynch. The performances of the protagonists are all excellent; the two young leads, Lincoln and Skelly have both depth and chemistry, John Lynch brings the same internal tortured angst as he does in The Fall, and a very special shout-out for Martha portrayed by Caitriona Ennis. Candice’s bessie definitely stole the few scenes she was in. The antagonists were not so subtle, all but one were theatrical and cartoon-like, but I have my suspicions that could have been the writing.
Although the elements of Kissing Candice never really gel together in a cohesive manner and some narrative threads are left untied, the filmmaking ambition and talent on offer is there for all to see. The end result is a visual thrill and marks Aoife McArdle as one to keep any eye on.
18 (See IFCO for details)
Kissing Candice is released 22nd June 2018