Irish Director Aoife McArdle’s debut feature film, Kissing Candice, features a bored girl living in Ireland who is dreaming of a more exciting life with an exciting man away from her awful town. Eventually she gets involved with a rough crowd, and things turn sour. Featuring hints of The Virgin Suicides and Disturbia, the film doesn’t add enough to the genre of the tragic, coming-of-age story to be particularly notable.
Stylistically the film is reminiscent of the mid-2000s UK series Skins, with long dream-like sequences dedicated to teenage angst, despair and bad decisions. In between we are treated to dialogue that feels inconsequential and melodrama that goes nowhere. While it would be difficult to say that Ann Skelly’s lead performance is “bad,” I also don’t feel that I understand much about Candice as a character.
Her stares are blank, refusing access to any kind of interiority or emotional logic guiding her actions. Even when she’s in danger, her fear feels somehow out of place. Like it belongs to a different character in a different movie.
The other actors don’t bring much to the table either. John Lynch plays Candice’s father, seemingly doing his best impression of Liam Neeson in Taken. Ryan Lincoln plays Candice’s bad-boy, Jacob, who lacks the charisma necessary for the response he provokes in Candice. You never quite understand why she’s entranced by him, leaving their scenes together feeling cold.
There is a conversation late in the film that exemplifies all of these problems. Jacob asks Candice if she believes in God, and Candice responds that she believes in “something.” It ends as quickly as it starts, and it tells us exactly nothing about the characters other than that Candice is the cliché of teenage existential angst.
Nothing about the film is incompetent, only underdeveloped. Individual scenes could be interesting, but no momentum builds in their composition. I could see ideas starting to form, but they either remain stagnant or are zoomed past before you can start to process them. Everything about the film fades from memory far too fast for it to be worth the 100-minute run time.