Aoife McArdle has spent the past 4 years making shorts and music videos. And now she switches to a full length feature for the Ireland-set Kissing Candice. This festival entry gives us a taste of what Irish audiences get locally. The name suggests a romantic coming of age story.
Genre aside, what Kissing Candice does best is capturing a version of what it’s like to grow up in a seaside town. And how its smallness can be stifling for its working and non-working class citizens. The film’s star is Ann Skelly, encapsulating Candice’s frustration without making that too heavy on its audience.
Candice often talks about getting out of town. It’s a theme that we see often in coming of age films, if not too often. It doesn’t help that her policeman father, Donal (John Lynch), is overprotective of her. His obsession with a local missing person’s case affects the way he treats her.
McArdle’s camera glides, adding a magical air to the film. She uses vibrant colours for these dream sequences, following both Candice and the boy in her dreams, Jacob (Ryan Lincoln). The young man does manifest in Candice’s real life, both starting what becomes a troubled relationship.
Kissing Candice tries to balance what seem like clashing elements, dream and reality, grit and poppiness. But sometimes it loses its way. These fantasy sequences look great but makes for just a collection of one dramatic moment after another. The film gives us set pieces instead of a coherent story.