Wednesday 18 July 2018

Movie reviews: Kissing Candice, In the Fade

  • Kissing Candice (18, 103mins) - 3 stars
  • In the Fade (16, 106mins) - 3 stars
Obsessed: Ann Skelly and Ryan Lincoln in Kissing Candice
Obsessed: Ann Skelly and Ryan Lincoln in Kissing Candice

Paul Whitington

Most Irish films are afflicted by verbal diarrhoea - too many words and not enough visual storytelling. Aoife McArdle's feature debut Kissing Candice has the opposite problem, for which I suppose it ought to be congratulated.

McArdle made her name producing slick and haunting rock videos for the likes of Bryan Ferry and U2. Kissing Candice is full of moody, misty, nocturnal shots and sinister, crimson-lit interiors that would not look out of place in a pop promo: the film has a visual flair that belies its low budget, but is let down by a flimsy screenplay that ultimately leaves its characters high and dry.

It's interesting to watch, though, and Red Rock regular Ann Skelly is memorably impassioned as Candice, a Dundalk teenager who seems drawn to danger.

Her sullen father, Donal (John Lynch), is a cynical policeman who sees a crook around every corner and is stiflingly protective of his daughter. He has good reason: Candice suffers with epilepsy and seems to have little regard for her personal safety.

During one hallucinogenic fit she sees a handsome young man walk by her along a rainy street; she becomes obsessed with him, and he turns out to be real.

Jacob (Ryan Lincoln) is loosely affiliated to a local gang of violent drug-users and stops them harming Candice when they meet her on a country road. She and Jacob become close, but as Candice finds out more about the young man she begins to wonder if he can be trusted.

The early parts of Kissing Candice are suffused with a nicely evoked urban paranoia.

"Things were a lot better here during the Troubles," Lynch's character mutters darkly at one point, before implying that the crazy, directionless offspring of terrorists have run riot in an ideological vacuum.

After a dream-like opening, the film's tone darkens steadily, promising rich psychological dramas to come. They never arrive, as McArdle's screenplay runs out of steam and staggers blearily towards an unsatisfying and unconvincing conclusion.

But Kissing Candice is full of promise and pleasing cinematic flourishes: it makes you keen to see more from McArdle, though next time perhaps in collaboration with a more seasoned screenwriter.

 

Fascism and white supremacy are attempting to have a bit of a moment right now, particularly in eastern Europe, and in Faith Akin's psychological thriller In the Fade they return to their spiritual homeland.

German woman Katja Sekerci (Diane Kruger) is devastated when her Turkish-born husband and young son are killed in a Hamburg terror attack, but her grief is complicated by racial tensions between her parents and his, and media speculation about her late husband's criminal past.

A neo-Nazi group emerge as prime suspects and Katja's hopes for justice are raised by the prospect of a trial. But an oily defence lawyer and the vicissitudes of a liberal democracy will conspire to frustrate the grieving widow, and force her to contemplate more desperate measures.

Akin, who's German-born but of Turkish heritage, brings a sombre realism to the early parts of his drama, which explores both the nature of grief and the individual's powerlessness in the face of totalitarian hatred and an indifferent state.

There's a raw intensity to Kruger's portrayal of a desperate woman, but she's let down by a confusing and unsatisfying final third. And one can't help feeling that Akin's story might have been much more interesting if he'd taken a different tack.

Self-styled jihadis remain the most pressing threat in Europe, not neo-Nazis, and if In the Fade had made an Isis attack the centre of its narrative, it could have focused on examining how much western democracies are willing to sacrifice in tackling hateful actors intent on their destruction.

Also releasing this week: The Happy Prince movie review: 'Rupert Everett's biopic builds a bleak portrait of a weary, defeated man'

Irish Independent

Entertainment Newsletter

Going out? Staying in? From great gigs to film reviews and listings, entertainment has you covered.

Editors Choice

Also in Entertainment