Discovery

Kissing Candice

Aoife McArdle

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Candice longs to escape the boredom of her seaside town, but when a boy she dreams about turns up in real life, she becomes involved with a dangerous local gang, in Irish music video director Aoife McArdle’s feature debut.

This searing drama about youth at risk in smalltown Ireland marks the auspicious feature debut of director Aoife McArdle, a rising star who brings a lush, sensuous eye to even the darkest scenarios. Featuring an arresting performance from Ann Skelly, Kissing Candice is about a girl growing up in a very scary place — and the imaginings that might literally represent her only way out.

Seventeen-year-old Candice (Skelly) is a dreamer, and the dreams she has during her chronic seizures are the most lucid of all. In one, she meets a beautiful sleepwalking boy. It's a dream she can't shake off, especially given the nature of her reality. Candice longs to escape this gloomy seaside town still reeling from the disappearance of a local boy. "Things were a lot safer here during the Troubles," Candice's police detective father proclaims, referring to the violence regularly wreaked by a vicious gang. Candice's world seems to brighten when she meets a man who perfectly resembles her sleepwalker — until she learns he is part of the very gang her father is determined to abolish.

Leaden clouds looming over water, detritus-strewn abandoned houses, and the crimson glow of streetlamps: setting after setting in Kissing Candice is evocative. McArdle slips between Candice's hallucinatory visions and the harsh actuality of her surroundings, exercising our empathy for this troubled girl on a quest for a safer place to dream.

MICHÈLE MAHEUX

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