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Hard Candy

A movie directed by David Slade

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Hard Candy -- What do you do with hard candy? You suck ... yea the film does just that

  • Oct 9, 2010
For some reason the credits list 5 people, but for basically the entire 100 minutes it is all Hayley (Ellen Page) and Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson). She plays a Lolita type and he plays the Humbert type where Lolita and Humbert meet via chat sessions. She believes he is a pedophile and a killer and she puts him through some rather torturous scenarios as the 100 minutes tick down. These scenarios would be hard to believe and would be the reason for watching so I will leave them unsaid. It is very much like a porn movie in that the plot is pretty scant and the focus is gratuitous (violence in this case rather than sex).

The problem is that Hard Candy is just a more intense version of Death and the Maiden (but only in the manner of supposed “revenge”). In each case the standard ‘victim’ replaces the standard ‘victimizer.’ But, see, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley are just significantly stronger actors than Ms. Page or Mr. Wilson (and I got the film specifically for him—I like him for many reasons and he isn’t bad, just not as strong as Mr. Kingsley; even if he is FAR better looking). 

It is supremely difficult to carry a film (or play) with just two people. Each actor and each character they play have to be believable and have at least little moments where you can sympathize with both of them. If not, then you’re just watching two nasty people argue. Hard Candy is completely without balance. There is nothing to like about Hayley, not one thing. So, as a viewer, I am left having all the sympathy for an alleged pedophile. What makes it worse is the format the director, David Slade, chose. A good third of the film is very tight close-ups. Had the film been better, these close-ups—so close that it seems like the actor is coming through the screen—would have been truly disturbing; instead, what I got was a bit of tension, but mostly just a sense of “why?” From worse to worst, Ms. Page’s facial emotional range is comprised of three looks: I smell something bad, sarcasm, and, to quote her “I’m an honor student” aloofness. That’s it. You can only expect Mr. Wilson to have just a couple of looks and they are just different aspects of fear since he spends the entire time as a victim.

Hard Candy seems like it started as an issue movie, then just fell apart. The issue is as mentioned earlier, pedophilia. To be more exact it is ephebophilia (teens instead of kids), this doesn’t excuse it, just defines the border. Given how touchy and “ooky” (to use a word from the film) adult desire for the young is; there were rather large possible storylines. Mr. Slade blazed a road that went right off a cliff.

Since Hard Candy can still be considered an issue film, even if a failed one, let’s assume Jeff is guilty of the worst offenses. Why would Hayley enjoy really torturing him? It means that she becomes what she believes Jeff to be. This logic is impossible to push aside and completely undoes the film. I was left with the sense that Hayley had no soul and the supposed pedophile did. Again, were this a better film, I might have felt very uncomfortable; instead, I just wanted my time back.

I’m hamstrung in explaining more about the film because I don’t want to go into the tortures. Even if someone has been the victim of rape of any kind, I can’t see them getting any satisfaction from this film. I know this is a bold statement, but if all the sympathy goes to the rapist . . . what satisfaction can the victim really get? 

Finally, Sandra Oh makes a cameo. She is on camera for all of 3 minutes. If you are a fan of hers, leave this one out. 

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More Hard Candy reviews
review by . July 15, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Tackling important matters in very modern contexts, 'Hard Candy' is at best a difficult movie to absorb and watch. What starts as potentially a cautionary tale takes on many nuances and twists as a young teenager hooks up with a much older man via the Internet. As a seeming innocent teenager and as the clever, methodical creep both characters come together tragically, but in ways that seem (and unfortunately are) too real. Gripping from start to finish, the plot is cleverly written--even if the …
Quick Tip by . June 25, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
This is one of the absolute dumbest movies I've ever seen in my life.  When you get past the extremely contrived storyline and characters and heavy-handed feeling of the film, all you got is a "shock factor for shock factor's sake" type of film, and a horribly done one at that.  My biggest complaint with this ungodly terrible movie was Ellen Page's character.  She's only 14 and unless if her dad is John Rambo (which I know ISN'T the case), the …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Gritty dark film. Ellen Page shows shes not just a cute face. She can play dark complex charecteres.
review by . April 29, 2009
This movie is like Open Water, where there are only two actors in a situation that you know something terrifyingly awful is going to occur but you are compelled to watch anyway. In this one a thirty-something man is trolling the Internet chat rooms looking for young girls. He has a conversation with a 14 year old girl and they agree to meet.     He tells the girl that he is a photographer that does a lot of work for magazines and the girl ends up at his house. The first thing …
review by . December 19, 2008
A word of advice for any dude who is thinking about watching Hard Candy, do yourself a favor and don't eat beforehand. In Hard Candy, this photographer, Jeff (hot hot in glasses Patrick Wilson) chats up a 14 year old girl Hayley (everyone's favorite impregnanted precocious teen, Ellen Page at her pixiest) online. They meet for coffee, she convinces him to take her back to his house where she proceeds to drug and fuck with him for the majority of the movie. She does some seriously depraved shit. …
review by . November 04, 2008
Hard Candy
A fourteen year old girl, Hayley (Ellen Page), chatting on the internet meets a 32 year old photographer whose moniker is 'lensmaster319', but who's real name is Jeff (Patrick Wilson). They arrange to meet in a coffee shop called Nighthawks.     Hayley is far too wise for her years, and Jeff's feeble attempts to prove himself above picking up on her are washed away in her innocent insistence that he take her to his house to hear a bootleg MP3. What ensues is a game of cat-and-mouse, …
review by . November 10, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: ........     Cons: .........     The Bottom Line:   "I'll keep you my dirty little secret  Don't tell anyone or you'll be just another regret  My dirty little secret"  ~The All-American Rejects         This is one of those rare movies that both repulses you, yet draws you in.  The subject matter is quite intense but not nearly as intense as the result.   After …
review by . July 01, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is like Open Water, where there are only two actors in a situation that you know something terrifyingly awful is going to occur but you are compelled to watch anyway. In this one a thirty-something man is trolling the Internet chat rooms looking for young girls. He has a conversation with a 14 year old girl and they agree to meet.    He tells the girl that he is a photographer that does a lot of work for magazines and the girl ends up at his house. The first thing …
review by . November 28, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
Hard Candy is in no way a difficult movie to review because it has almost no flaws. I think everything is perfect and it is now in a very short list of amazing films that is filled with all talk and never bores you. The film is about a 14-year-old girl named Hayley played by Ellen Page. The film goes right into the base of its story when Hayley meets up with a 32 year old man named Jeff whom she met in a chat room. Already you can tell that this girl is a little different from any 14 year old you …
review by . September 25, 2006
The topic of pedophile has been revisited once again; following the recent slew of similarly-themed shows like the `Woodsman' and `Mysterious Skin.' But this time round, pedophile isn't the theme of the show; it is simply a cat-and-mouse-ish thriller between a teenage girl and a suspected pedophile. This movie is dark; hell, what story about pedophile wouldn't be, and the acting is nothing short of excellent. Both characters are extremely convincing and both shock in their respective ways. Brian …
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Claustrophobic and brightly colored, this tightly wound psychological thriller is constantly pulling the rug out from under the viewer, mostly due to the tense, explosive performances of its two main characters. The tale opens with a coffee shop rendezvous between 14-year-old Haley (the fantastic Ellen Page) and 32-year-old fashion photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson), who have previously met only online in a chat room. Despite his questionable enthusiasm at meeting a girl half his age, Jeff comes off as slightly awkward and shy; rather, it's Haley who is unnervingly forthright in her flirtation. She suggests that they go back to his place, he complies, and, once there, Haley seductively convinces him to take pictures of her. She exhibits a beguiling mixture of innocence and precocious sexuality, but before anything happens between them, Jeff passes out under the influence of the drugs she's slipped him. When he wakes up, Haley drops her innocent demeanor and begins to undertake a meticulously planned game...

The supercharged possibilities of a single set and two amped-up actors are explored inHard Candy, a twisted cocktail with a poison kicker. After a flirtatious encounter in an online chat room, two people agree to meet for coffee: a 32-year-old man (Patrick Wilson) and a 14-year-old girl (Ellen Page). They quickly advance to his house, and just as quickly, the apparent pedophilic seduction morphs into something else entirely. After the tables turn,Hard Candybecomes...
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Director: David Slade
Genre: Action, Adventure
Release Date: April 14, 2006
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Brian Nelson
DVD Release Date: September 19, 2006
Runtime: 1hr 39min
Studio: Vulcan Productions, Lions Gate Films
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