Irish Film Review: Kissing Candice

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.

Emma Donnelly

18 (See IFCO for details)

103 minutes
Kissing Candice is released 22nd June 2018





Review of Irish Film @ ADIFF 2018: Kissing Candice

Stephen Porzio puckers up at the 2018 Audi Dublin International Film Festival for Aoife McArdle’s Kissing Candice. 

I recently criticised The Lodgers for being an Irish genre movie that failed to capitalise on the country’s rich history. For a gothic horror set in the 1920s, it felt uninterested in engaging with Ireland’s Battle for Independence or Civil War, events which had they been a greater part of the story would have made it richer. Thankfully, Kissing Candice – a graphic novel-esque tale of cops and robbers and young lovers caught in the crossfire set in Northern Ireland – does a better job at this. The debut from writer-director Aoife McArdle (U2’s Every Breaking Wave music video) takes the time to acknowledge The Troubles and the impact the era had on the generation that followed.

An incredibly expressive Ann Skelly (Red Rock, Rebellion) stars as Candice, a 17-year-old living in a one-horse-town with her troubled policeman father, Donal (The Fall’s John Lynch), and disconnected mother, Debbie (Lydia McGuinness, who had a great role in another ADIFF premiere, The Delinquent Season). Both dealing with her blossoming sexuality and severe seizures, Candice retreats into dreams. While dreaming, she has visions of man who she does not know but feels inexplicably drawn to.

Things get complicated, however, when Candice meets literally the man from her dreams, Jacob (Ryan Lincoln), a former member of a ruthless local gang who Donal wants to put behind bars. Having turned on his partners in crime, the criminals want revenge – targeting Candice in the process.

With its neo-noir aesthetic, its sensorial depiction of female sexual desire and its hallucinatory representation of the journey from teen to adult, Kissing Candice is part Streets of Fire, part Raw and part Donnie Darko. However, what keeps the movie feeling fresh and exciting, as opposed to derivative, is Aoife McArdle’s direction. Coming from a music video background, she emphasises mood and visuals over the story. Kissing Candice could be viewed without audio, and audiences would still be transfixed by its imagery; a burning toy house in the middle of a road, a dream in which a man walks stoically as his arm is on fire, a party-goer’s creepy mask at a neon-drenched nightmare rave.

While the glossy music video aesthetic for the most part works to the film’s favour, occasionally Kissing Candice feel more like long-form accompaniment to Jon Clarke’s pulsating score. This is particularly noticeable in the movie’s oblique denouement which would work better in an experimental music promo than a narrative feature.

Still, McArdle deserves credit for doing something revelatory. She manages to convey the stark brutal reality of living in some parts of Ireland but in a way which looks as incredible as a Michael Mann joint. Also, as mentioned in the first paragraph, McArdle seems to be making a commentary on the lasting impact on The Troubles. The murderous gangs that populate Kissing Candice, Donal remarks, are the sons of those who fought in the conflict. Perhaps, the violence is not quite over yet.


Kissing Candice screened on Friday, 2nd March 2018 as part of the Audi Dublin International Film Festival (21 February – 4th March).







Wildcard Distribution Acquires Irish and UK Rights for ‘Kissing Candice’

Wildcard Distribution has acquired the Irish and UK Rights for Aoife McArdle’s debut feature film Kissing Candice with a theatrical release due in the coming months.

Speaking about the acquisition, writer and director of the film, Aoife McArdle said: “I’m thrilled to be working with Wildcard on the release of Kissing Candice in Ireland and the UK. This is a film that’s been crafted for a youth audience so we couldn’t have found a better partner.”

Patrick O’Neill, MD of Wildcard added “Kissing Candice is one of the most original and exciting Irish films I have seen in recent years, and introduces Aoife McArdle as a visionary new voice in Irish cinema. We look forward to working closely with Aoife and Producer Andrew Freedman on the cinema release in the coming months.”

The coming-of-age story stars Ann Kelly as Candice, a 17-year-old who longs to escape the boredom of her seaside town, only finding solace in her vivid imagination. When a boy she dreams about (played by Ryan Lincoln, Cardboard Gangsters) turns up in real life, she becomes increasingly entangled with a dangerous local gang.

Ann, whose previous work includes the RTE series Rebellion, received an IFTA nomination yesterday in the Actress in a Lead Role – Film category for her role in Kissing Candice where she is up against Saoirse Ronan
(Ladybird) and Sarah Bolger (Halal Daddy).

The film which shot on location in Dublin, Louth and Wicklow had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last September.

It’s the feature film debut from award-winning music video director Aoife McArdle and was produced by Andrew Freedman of Venom Films (His & Hers, Kelly & Victor, Mom & Me) and Sally Campbell of Somesuch with funding through the Irish Film Board’s Catalyst Scheme.


Winning Projects Announced for the Irish Film Board Low Budget Filmmaking Scheme – Catalyst Project

Catalyst for news-10

Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board have announced the final three successful teams of the intensely competitive Catalyst Project initiative, who have been selected from over 88 applications, to win the opportunity to produce a fully funded feature film.

Through Catalyst Project, Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board will provide each filmmaking team with funding to produce a low-budget feature film. The winning teams will also have access to key industry experts who will offer mentorship and guidance along the way.

The successful projects are:

  • Kissing Candice written and to be directed by Aoife McArdle and to be produced by Andrew Freedman;
  • The Drummer and The Goalkeeper written and to be directed by Nick Kelly and to be produced by Kate McColgan;
  • Without Name written by Garret Shanley, to be directed by Lorcan Finnegan and to be produced by Brunella Cocchiglia.

Kissing Candice tells the story of a lonely, imaginative teenage girl growing up in a stifling community, who finds romance with an unhinged stranger. Aoife McArdle has written and directed a number of short films and is an award-winning commercials and music video director. Andrew Freedman’s credits include the highly successful documentary feature film ‘His and Hers’, the BAFTA winning co-production ‘Kelly and Victor’ and a number of multi-award winning short films.

The Drummer and The Goalkeeper is a story about finding true friendship in the craziest of places. Writer / Director Nick Kelly has previously directed the award winning short films ‘Delphine’, ‘Why the Irish Dance That Way’ and ‘Shoe’ which was long-listed for the Academy Awards®,. Kate McColgan is currently an Acquisition and Production Consultant for MPI Media, having previously worked across production and development for Parallel Film Productions, the Weinstein Company and Element Pictures.

Without Name follows a systematic land surveyor who loses his reason in a supernatural environment that defies all boundaries. Lorcan Finnegan and Garret Shanley have previously collaborated on the award-winning short film ‘Foxes’ which was selected for SXSW and the Tribeca Film Festival. Finnegan is also an experienced commercials director. Brunella Cocchiglia has produced the award-winning short films ‘Fear of Flying’, and ‘Foxes’ as well as a number of commercials and music videos. Garret Shanley has written a number of short films and currently has a feature film in development with the IFB.