Director: Alicia Slimmer
Studio: Creedmoria Productions
Starring: Stef Dawson, Ray Abruzzo, James Kelley
A Funny, heart-warming story following the life of a seventeen-year-old girl whose dysfunctional family, obsessive boyfriend and abusive boss still don’t stop her from smiling.
Candy Cahill lives in Queens, NY, next to one of the largest mental hospitals Creedmoor. The film embraces the quirkiness of people whilst rejecting what it is to be “normal”, something her domineering mother longs for in her children. For years Candy has tried to help save those around her, helping her alcoholic brother, standing up to the Creedmoor bullies, leaving cigarette ends for the homeless and now it’s time for Candy to save herself. The story is about hope, for Candy, it’s the hope of leaving Queens to start a new life for herself, away from the problematic people that surround her.
Set in the 80s, the film’s sensational cinematic style has similarities to Wes Anderson movies, saturated colours as well as an intertextual reference to his 2001 film The Royal Tenenbaums. In an Interview with Manchester Film Festival, Alicia Slimmer Writer/Director explained that her coming-of-age flick was based on her own struggles growing up in Queens. The film resonates with people of that era, through its soundtrack consisting of a mix of new wave and classic rock.
Stef Dawson (Annie Cresta in the Hunger Games films) plays the role of Candy exceptionally well. Combining her sweet, charming persona and fiery red head attitude, Dawson captivates the audience. Her chemistry with her on-screen brother, Sean (who is coming to terms with his sexuality) is touching. The pair bounce off one another beautifully throughout the film. Slimmer keeps the audience engaged throughout, filling the features runtime with hilarious scenes, from their insane dog Cuddles, to Candy’s inescapable boyfriend who instantly gets her name tattooed on his arm. One particular scene involving Candy and Sean making a prank call to the police, didn’t seem necessary, but overall the film’s comedy is one of it’s strongest aspects.
The film has a large focus on mental illnesses. As a sentimental topic, I feel Slimmer presented these dark themes in a light-hearted way. A perfect blend of seriousness and humour, never making the viewer feel uncomfortable. There are many different narratives which have the potential to confuse an audience, never the less, for a debut feature, Slimmer does an exceptional job. She took home Manchester Film Festival’s Best Director and Audience Choice Awards, rightfully so as well for the creator of a feel-good film full of leather heads, authentic cars and run away dreams taking you on a journey of comical weirdness.
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