Title: Hard Candy
Release Date: Theatrical release 4/14/06, Available on DVD 9/19/06
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page
Director: David Slade
MPAA Rating: R
Reason for Rating: Disturbing violence, aberrant sexual content involving a teen and language.
Runtime: 1 hour 43 minutes
Haley (Ellen Page) is a fourteen year old girl with exceptional mental prowess. She chats online with a man, and by man I mean mid thirties, Jeff (Patrick Wilson) and meets him in person at a coffee shop. Haley, in true teenage fashion, flirts and practically throws herself at him. Jeff is interested, but understandably stand-offish. However, against all good sense he takes her to his house, where we are lead to believe he is a pedophile. It is at this point where the plot is turned on its head and some of the most uncomfortable scenes are shown in a completely raw fashion. The ending is as much a surprise as the actual plot.
I was blown away in the most uncomfortable way that I can adequately explain using simple verbage. Luckily for the director, this is exactly what he wanted. Haley is a genius, as well as Ellen Page, who played this prodigy and made her believable with a possible psychotic edge. Haley’s sanity is in question for most of the film, as well as Jeff’s guilt. Wilson and Page both deserve a hand for a very well played role. The writer deserves a week off and a hell of a way for Slade to break out as a director.
I hesitate to go too in depth, as anything might give this movie away and it needs to be seen with fresh eyes. So, I say this; my brother is a detective and he works his fair share of pedophile cases. One of the scuttlebutts on this movie, is that it is an exploitation of serious subject matter. Well you are right, it is serious.
The largest problem is no one wants to talk about it out loud. Hard Candy throws it in your face without an apology and suffers you through your personal fear and discomfort of social faux pas. My friends this is not an isolated problem it is prolific and widespread and will not stop until everyone acknowledges its existance. Hard Candy is a must see, but not for those with a tender palate. I applaud the ground this movie breaks without resorting to gratuitous graphics.
Hit or No Hit: Hard Candy doesn’t get a hit or a miss, it’s not playing ball. I think it would prefer Duck, Duck, Goose, with a scalpel.