News  ·  09 | 08 | 2022

Candy Land

John Swab | Fuori concorso

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After presenting the remarkable Ida Red last year, John Swab returns to Fuori concorso at the Locarno Film Festival with Candy Land, surprisingly changing tone and narrative register. If the previous feature film with Josh Hartnett and Melissa Leo was in fact a crime-movie structured according to the strongest directives of the genre, this time the writer chooses to ‘freeze` the narrative using a single setting as the theater of his bruised drama. The narrative centerpiece of the film revolves around a group of ‘lost’ souls, whose anxiety of redemption passes through a vortex of madness, depravity and blood. The protagonist of Candy Land is in fact the young Remy who, driven out of the sect of religious fundamentalists in which she grew up, takes refuge in a hotel where a group of sex workers lives every day, following rules that guarantee them the greatest possible freedom and security. But will the fragile psychology of the girl be able to bear the whole burden of ‘sin’ in the new universe in which she has immersed? 

John Swab is not afraid to work on opposites to find the energy necessary for Candy Land: on the one hand he builds a degrading film universe, represented in all its rawness and social and economic poverty. On the other hand, it inserts in this environment characters who, although in chiaroscuro, possess their own, at least spiritual, standpoint. The three young sex workers protagonists of the film express, each in their own way, an exuberant and proactive vitality that contrasts the degraded and degrading surroundings in which they find themselves living. And it is precisely for this reason that, when the filmmaker decides to unleash the visual and conceptual hell in which Candy Land falls during the second part, one can only be struck by a staging that ‘explodes’, explicating the human and psychological abyss that the first half had somehow managed to keep in check. It is then clear how much the film has its own painful and all in all ruthless internal coherence, even with the audience itself. The dramatic progression – which, more than once, also manages to be charged with a not indifferent satirical dimension - leads Candy Land to an inevitable conclusion, which metaphorically represents the United States today more than ever divided, bigoted and unfortunately violent. Swab builds, piece by piece, a cinematographic mosaic of enormous visual impact, capable of immersing the audience in a suffocating tour de force. The so-called American Dream is now defunct, drowned in the blood of those who have been pushed to the margins... 

Adriano Ercolani