Hard Candy

 
Directed by: David Slade
Written by:Brian Nelson
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh, Odessa Rae, Gilbert John
Released: July 13, 2006
Grade: C-

A thirty something year old photographer named Jeff (Wilson) has befriended a 14-year-old girl named Hayley (Page) in an internet chat-room.  The two agree to meet for the first time at a nearby coffee shop.  On Hayley’s insistence, the pair head back to Jeff’s house and you’ll start to fear for her safety.

Very few films have dealt with the issue of paedophilia.  Mysterious Skin, which was released last year, is one of the few good examples.  After watching the above introduction, I thought Hard Candy would be an interesting movie.  I was certain that it would explore the delicate subject matter and give the audience plenty to think about.  How wrong I was.

Without spoiling too much, Hayley gets the upper hand and takes control of the situation.  She has been playing Jeff and wants to punish him for what he is trying to do.  This makes the film utterly ridiculous.  If you’d like some more adjectives, try implausible, silly and farcical.

I have never met a 14-year-old person who speaks and thinks so intelligently.  For most of the film, she is incredibly calm.  Not only does she defeat Jeff mentally, she also overpowers him physically is some scenes.  How is this remotely possible?

The bottom line is that instead of a serious film about paedophilia, we are forced to watch a lame revenge flick.  What’s the point?  Will people feel better watching a paedophile get what he deserves?  Shouldn’t we be equally worried about the 14-year-old psychopath?  The ending itself makes no sense.  I’d love to see what happened after the final scene because it wouldn’t be as clear cut as the ending implies.

In case you’re wondering, the actress who plays Hayley is of legal age.  She’s 19-year-old Ellen Page and you might remember her from the recent X-Men: The Last Stand.   Jeff is played by Patrick Wilson who was last seen in The Phantom Of The Opera.  They “dominate” the film with only three other people listed in the closing credits.

Hard Candy is rated R in Australia for its high level sexual themes and high level violence.  This will prevent anyone under the age of 18 from seeing it.  If you’re over 18, you’ll need to use your own willpower to stay away.