A cover of Elton John’s Bennie and the Jets plays mournfully in the end of Skyko’s short, Candy & Ronnie. So, when I ask him about the title of the film, it comes as no surprise that it’s directly related to the iconic song.
“One afternoon I was playing the piano and singing an old Elton John song Bennie and the Jets. Over the many years of playing the song, I could never fully understand the lyric. I decided to look up the correct words on the internet and was surprised to find the hidden meaning in the song. “Candy & Ronnie have you seen them yet – oh but they’re so spaced out. B-B-B-Bennie and the Jets…” Candy = cocaine Ronnie = Heroin, Bennie = Benzedrine.”
I grew up listening to the song, but it wasn’t until Skyko pointed it out that I realized its true meaning. It was then that the heaviness of the topic really hit me. Drugs are, especially in music and cinema, often glorified, and sometimes we don’t even realize it’s happening. It got me thinking. How many songs do I listen to mindlessly without thinking of the severity of the topic the artist is singing about? How often do I watch a movie or show where someone casually does drugs, and I shrug it off because it’s become such a common sight? How many kids are growing up listening to the same songs and watching the same movies, without really understanding what they’re hearing/seeing? This is the all too common pattern that Candy & Ronnie masterfully avoids.
The 16 minute short, written and directed by Skyko, focuses on Alice and Billy, a young couple madly in love. One night, the two decide to take ecstasy together, planning on having an intimately wild weekend. But when someone else joins in on the fun, bringing more drugs along with him, the night takes an interesting turn, resulting in a chain of events that will change their lives forever.
What makes Candy & Ronnie so entrancing is that the cinematography is so intimate, we feel as if we’re there with the characters. Everything feels hazy, psychedelic even, which Skyko credits to the combination of retro props, and funk music which he himself wrote. As the night wears on, and the characters fall deeper into their drug-induced state, things get weirder and weirder. You’ll find yourself giving your head a little shake, trying to clear your mind just to process what’s happening. Such an immersive style of filmmaking is risky, especially for a short film, but Skyko pulls it off almost effortlessly.
The incredible actors are not only believable, but raw, completely naked in more ways than one. In just 16 minutes, we see the best and worst of their characters’ personalities. But what I really want to commend the entire team on is the film’s sexuality. I wasn’t joking when I said that these actors get completely naked. And though sex scenes can often get gratuitous quite fast, or at the very least feel out of place and unnecessary, that isn’t the case with Candy & Ronnie.
“I wanted to make the love scene as truthful as possible. I found in the edit room that the scene affected me most when the camera focused on the actors facial expressions rather than just the nudity. I had two extremely talented actors to work with and they truly did a wonderful job of being in the moment and really connecting with each other emotionally. I think the actors commitment is what made that scene work so smoothly.”
What sets Candy & Ronnie apart from other films is that it isn’t glorifying drugs, but neither is it anti-drug. It shows both the highs and lows. It tells the audience that sure, certain substances can offer up some great times. But you can’t ignore the risk that you’re taking. Skyko phrases it perfectly.
“I don’t believe that we set out to make a blatant anti-drug movie but we definitely set out to expose the dangers of opiates/opioids so that young people know what they may be getting into by experimenting with them. I don’t think there is enough realistic dramatic material that exposes these demons for what they are. Do people really understand the physically addictive qualities these pills have? I don’t think so. When my younger brother was prescribed pills after the shock of living close to the epicenter of the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake, I’m certain he had no idea that these pills were as harmful and addictive as a needle full of heroin. I’m convinced that I never got involved with hard drugs because of films like The Basketball Diaries, Trainspotting and The Man With The Golden Arm. Our hopes are that Candy & Ronnie has the same effect on people as these fine films did on me.”
Real, raw, weird, and moving, Candy & Ronnie is a short film you definitely should add to your list.
Find Out More About Candy & Ronnie On Their Official Website.