After flirtatious exchanges on an internet chat room, 32 year old Jeff (Patrick Wilson) sets up a coffee shop meeting with 14-year-old Hayley (Ellen Page). Hayley is smart and personable; Jeff, too presents well, and they soon head back to Jeff's apartment, which is adorned with blow ups of some of his fashion photos of young women. Hayley probes him for personal information about his sexual activity, and after a couple of drinks the probing turns deadly serious, as a surprisingly well informed Hayley accuses him of being a pedophile. And by now, she has the upper hand ...
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
While I couldn't recommend Hard Candy for its easy entertainment value, it is worth seeing for how a relative newcomer like David Slade handles a high tension two hander. Writer Brian Nelson has provided a screenplay that grabs our attention and dribbles out information with reluctance; Slade's direction takes its cue from this stringent style and builds a gripping and sometimes harrowing film. It plays a bit like a psychological game in which there are no rules.
Jeff is a good looking guy in his early 30s, an affable sort of chap, and when he meets the perky Hayley at Nighthawkes café, he is quickly taken by her. And so are we: she's sassy, smart, yet innocent and young. All the more dreadful then when she turns out to have a prior plan for Jeff, in which he becomes a victim, totally at her mercy. Except she has none to show him.
It's difficult to talk about the film without giving away some of its elements, which are best revealed by the film itself. That, in fact, is what makes it such a powerful work; Slade's ability to maximise the screenplay. He shoots lots of tight close ups, pans across the apartment and uses its colour scheme to great effect, and holds down the bursting effect of the drama with determination, so that there is virtually no escape from the tension. By the time the film nears the end, we have been made to feel amused, scared, horrified - and amazed at the workings of human nature.
See it - but be warned: hard candy can break your teeth.
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HARD CANDY (R)
CAST: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh, Jennifer Holmes
PRODUCER: Paul Allen, David Higgins, Jody Patton
DIRECTOR: David Slade
SCRIPT: Brian Nelson
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Jo Willems
EDITOR: Art Jones
MUSIC: Harry Escott, Molly Nyman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jeremy Reed
RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Icon
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 13, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Home Video
VIDEO RELEASE: December 6, 2006
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