$2.50 Reviews: Hard Candy (2005)

$2.50 Reviews:

Hard Candy

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Hard Candy is a 2005 thriller directed by David Slade. As impressive as it is, this was actually Slade's first feature film, with him primarily directing music videos prior to Hard Candy. The film stars Ellen Page as a 14 year old named Hayley, and Patrick Wilson as a 32 year old photographer named Jeff. Taking place primarily in Jeff's house, the film takes a darker turn from what is originally expected from the opening few scenes.

You can tell right off the bat that something is amiss in the situation. The film opens off with flirtatious e-mails between two people on an internet chat room. The two agree to meet up at a local coffee shop. We are then introduced to our two leads. Still something seems wrong with the situation. Soon after meeting, the two agree to go back to Jeff's house. After a while, Jeff ends up tied in a chair, while Hayley has dropped the shy, innocent look she had earlier. You now begin to see that this isn't just some romance story between two lovers who have to wait 4 more years before they can be together. This is a revenge flick flipping the usual male dominance on its head.

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In a way, Hard Candy turns the
Little Red Riding Hood story on its head

In case the title of the film didn't clue you in, (it didn't for me), the film's central theme is actually pedophilia. Touching on a taboo topic isn't all the film does. That is the primary focus. It doesn't just get brushed over, or mentioned, that is actually where the film dwells. Whether this was to get some extra attention, or to state a message is not clear. What is clear is that Hard Candy does not dance around the subject; it takes it on head-on. Surprising, it isn't actually a graphic film. It deals more with subtlety than anything else, leaving a lot to the imagination of its audience.

There is one scene in particular that seems to go on for about ten minutes, which will leave almost any male watching it feel incredibly uncomfortable. What's amazing about that scene is that it, like the rest of the movie, is dialogue heavy. The actual "event" takes a good deal of time to get to. Even during and after, the characters are still taking shots at one another, with Hayley dishing out far more than she receives.

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The two leads carry the film

The acting is definitely what holds a film like Hard Candy together. Both Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson give believable performances. The film really is a two person show, and most of the film is actually carried out by the dialogue between the two characters. This actually allows for a few comical moments, that everyone might not get, but I certainly took pleasure in them. When a film focuses so much on a subject matter that makes a lot of people feel uncomfortable, those slight pauses between scenes of tension certainly stand out. These breaks in the tension, plus the fact that each actor did their job quite well, definitely made the movie.

And yet, despite the fact that each character is believable, neither of them really are characters you can root on. Jeff is an implied pedophile, while Hayley is essentially a vindictive little girl. She is played well, but the way her character is written leaves you not wanting to root her on in her quest for revenge. Even at the end, when one line explains her entire motivations, you feel a little bit of hatred towards her for what she has done throughout the film. Both characters are also portrayed as pathological liars. They continually tell lies to one another, so often in fact that you are never really sure if anything either character says is the truth.

Hard Candy certainly isn't a film that is easy to watch. It's not a film that is difficult to understand, or one that will make you think. It is a solid revenge flick about a girl attempting to toy with and teach a lesson to a suspected pedophile. Hard Candy does not dance around that subject matter, and instead faces it head on. The acting is top-notch, and although none of the characters are ones you want to root for, that doesn't really detract from the way the film tells its story. Although dialogue driven, it manages to keep up the thriller mentality by keeping the audience engaged and tense at the same time. It's a film all about making the audience uncomfortable, and in that regard, it succeeds in almost every way.

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Yay! Great review! I definitely want to watch this movie, it sounds incredibly interesting. Hard to swallow movies are always great to watch if done right.

googleit6:
Yay! Great review! I definitely want to watch this movie, it sounds incredibly interesting. Hard to swallow movies are always great to watch if done right.

Being female, you'll likely have an easier time stomaching it than if you were male. In fact, the film is almost about female empowerment.

Still recommend it, even if the "gross out" factor isn't really there for you.

That was a great review of a great movie!!

This is a film that ranks among my top favourites. It just seemed so original when I watched it and I've never seen a movie do the story like it.

I loved the whole "girl is now psychotic badass" thing it had going.

I'll disagree when you said it's harder for a man to watch. I had no difficulty watching it in all honesty. Perhaps that makes me just insane.

The "hard to watch" scene in is only hard to watch if you doubt that the character in question deserves what he is getting.

For me, the most interesting part of this film is seeing who the audience roots for. Like you said, they're both unsavory characters, but I feel that there's a lot to be learned about a person once you know whether they prefer a sociopathic murderer to a pedophile rapist or vice-versa.

Fantastic review.

Been interested in seeing this film since I heard the story was fantastic, but you just made it a "Must See".

Great review Marter. I remember when I watched it I was squirming in my seat the whole time. It's a fine film, but it makes you feel uncomfortable to say the least.

You might not be able to find it, but if you can I'd love to see you review Idiocracy.

... something people typically miss... but the film isn't about pedophilia. Pedophilia is sexual attraction to prepubescent girls. 0-10.

Hard Candy was all about sexual attraction to pubescent girls, jailbait, ephebophilia.

Its a distinction people like to ignore...

Interesting.
Iv been wanting to see it as iv heard so much about it.
Though im not really sure if its my kind of film.

Anyway, nice review man.
Gave me a good insight into it.

Julianking93:
That was a great review of a great movie!!

This is a film that ranks among my top favourites. It just seemed so original when I watched it and I've never seen a movie do the story like it.

I loved the whole "girl is now psychotic badass" thing it had going.

I'll disagree when you said it's harder for a man to watch. I had no difficulty watching it in all honesty. Perhaps that makes me just insane.

...how many favourite films do you have? I am genuinely curious, because it seems like a lot. :p

As for being hard to watch, maybe you are just insane. (Nice word choice). I didn't find it too bad, but general consensus tells me it was difficult.

Super Toast:
You might not be able to find it, but if you can I'd love to see you review Idiocracy.

Any particular reason? I'll keep my eye out for it, and I'll review it if I find it, just wondering why the request for it.

Cynical skeptic:
... something people typically miss... but the film isn't about pedophilia. Pedophilia is sexual attraction to prepubescent girls. 0-10.

Hard Candy was all about sexual attraction to pubescent girls, jailbait, ephebophilia.

Its a distinction people like to ignore...

That is interesting, but I think it could actually be both of those. We don't know if it is only pubescents, or if pre-pubescent are also involved. You make a good point though.

Marter:
That is interesting, but I think it could actually be both of those. We don't know if it is only pubescents, or if pre-pubescent are also involved. You make a good point though.

All the ages of the guy's "victims" (did like how they never outright let you know if he actually did anything or simply felt guilty) were at least 14. The pictures in his house never went under "12."

I mean, its not like he had "artistic" photographs of six year olds on his walls.

Cynical skeptic:
All the ages of the guy's "victims" (did like how they never outright let you know if he actually did anything or simply felt guilty) were at least 14. The pictures in his house never went under "12."

I mean, its not like he had "artistic" photographs of six year olds on his walls.

Marter:

Cynical skeptic:
All the ages of the guy's "victims" (did like how they never outright let you know if he actually did anything or simply felt guilty) were at least 14. The pictures in his house never went under "12."

I mean, its not like he had "artistic" photographs of six year olds on his walls.

The intentions of the filmmakers may have been specific, but that was what they actually did.

No, I didn't almost say the guy had "very tight standards" and anyone who says otherwise is lying!

Marter:

Super Toast:
You might not be able to find it, but if you can I'd love to see you review Idiocracy.

Any particular reason? I'll keep my eye out for it, and I'll review it if I find it, just wondering why the request for it.

It's pretty hilarious. And very few people have seen it; maybe you could get some people to check it out.

Marter:
snippy

Yes, I have lots of favourite films, but that's because I watch a lot of movies.

I never put a number on where it ranks, just that it's a favourite.

Number wise......maybe top 200(?)

Marter gets hard over Hard Candy?No! New sentence, start over!

As for the review, good as always but some of the transitions seemed a little sloppy and didn't flow very well. For example, the transition between talking about characters to acting didn't seem to use much of a linking device. Apart from that it was fine.

As for Hard Candy myself, I liked it except that it was quite noticeably low budget. Also, the final line and action by Ellen Pages' character kind of ruined a lot of the film, and made what happened throughout the story seem redundant.

Fucking LOVED this movie. Then again, basically anything with Ellen Page are some of my favorite films. More like I fucking love Ellen Page.

Julianking93:

Marter:
snippy

Yes, I have lots of favourite films, but that's because I watch a lot of movies.

I never put a number on where it ranks, just that it's a favourite.

Number wise......maybe top 200(?)

Eh, you should probably just say you like it then. Using "favourite" for over 200 films makes it a little bit redundant.

OT: It was an interesting film, but I don't really want to watch it again. As you said, neither character is very likeable, and there's no deep message; it's mainly a revenge flick, and the novelty would kind of wear off after the first time...

Outright Villainy:

Eh, you should probably just say you like it then. Using "favourite" for over 200 films makes it a little bit redundant.

Look at what you said towards the film and you'll have my reasons as to why it's only 200, but for liking it so much....I don't know. I've never seen a movie do what it did and affect me in the way it did, so it earns a special place amongst fellow movies of the genre.

I actually meant to say "Favourite of the genre" so that's a bit different. Sorry bout that.

Super Toast:
It's pretty hilarious. And very few people have seen it; maybe you could get some people to check it out.

I shall definitely add it to my list then. If I see it, I'll buy it.

 

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