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A mature 14-year old girl meets a charming 32-year old photographer on the Internet. Suspecting that he is a pedophile, she goes to his home in an attempt to expose him.
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So the usual story – girl meets man, girl goes back to man’s house, girl drugs man and girl pretends to cut off his man bits for being a suspected pedophile. Ok, maybe not the typical story, but I digress.
For those who haven’t yet seen the film you should know there will be NO SPOILERS in this review as to guilt or innocence. Such a fan am I of the movie, that I’ll let you discover the strange wonderment that is Hard Candy all by yourself.
So what’s it about and who plays who? Said ‘girl’ is played by Ellen Page, and despite the fact that this seemed like the first film I had even seen her in, she had in fact made over fifteen other film and TV shows before this. When the film was released (2005) she was 18, though watching the film she seems (granted intentionally) a lot younger. The man in question is played by Patrick Wilson (Phantom of the Opera, Angels in America) and the two play off of each other phenomenally. Although slightly disturbing, the two have fantastic on screen chemistry together which considering the film has only 2 notable sets and takes place in the span of one day, is quite a considerable triumph!
They are dark, yet so so simple.
Shot in 18 days for under $1m, the film was inspired by a story, producer David Higgins had read of Japanese school girls ambushing men who surfed the internet looking for underage dates. With Brian Nelson (the screenwriter) at the helm, the story was developed into Hard Candy, named as such as it implies both sweetness and spice.
Considering the film lends itself to the talent of two men is interesting considering the finely tuned, perfectly developed character of Hayley, a girl. Mixing both her naivety and strength was superbly done highlighting female adolescence perfectly. It is this mixture of strength and naivety that makes Hayley such an intriguing character, one minute she is hormonally charged, as you would expect from a 14 year old in such circumstances, and then next she is calculated, cold and ruthless. What transpires throughout the film will entice both men and women alike.
No doubt many women having watched the film would have had the same conversations I had with my female friends, what would you do in that situation. No doubt the men will be asking similar questions, but based on different reasons I suspect! For these reasons Hard Candy is extremely provocative and well thought out.
The film works as it does in large part due to the likability although somewhat sleazy demeanor of Patrick Wilson. Throughout the film we are genuinely captivated by his vulnerability and question whether or not he is what he is accused of being. The question of Jeff’s guilt is left cleverly open preventing the audience from siding with either of the two as they play off of each other in a somewhat sexual manner. Both characters are intrinsically liked, one unable to exist without the other, and it is this conundrum which is absorbing.