Hard Candy Reviews
It started strongly, the first 20 minutes of 'Hard Candy' are genuinely creepy and unsettling, mostly because of the ambiguity of the situation. It's also here that Ellen Page is actually very good, she's natural and only adds to the tension, she can give likeable performances after all. However, it swiftly descends into a stressful, frustrating ordeal of a film. My main problem with it was that throughout Hayley's antagonisation of Jeff, he isn't a confirmed paedophile or threat. Jeff is actually a character one can empathise with. He's clearly morally dubious, he has crossed the line in his contact with Hayley, but he seems to realise this - 'Look. I've been lonely, okay? And that makes me stupid, but I am not a paedophile.'
Is Jeff saying that as a way out? What were his intentions before things turned against him? I didn't know, but his innocence seemed credible, which made the majority of the film seem to be unjustified, sadistic torture committed by an irrational, evil and maddeningly arrogant psychopath.
Another of the film's problems is straightforward implausibility. 5ft 1 Ellen Page, who looks like she must weigh under 100lbs, somehow gets Patrick Wilson in all sorts of predicaments which are simply impossible. They can just about convince us of her dexterity with rope, but not that she can support Wilson's bodyweight to such a laughable extent. 'Hard Candy' is another film spoilt by how irritating Ellen Page is, but it also has several narrative issues which bang the final nail in the coffin.
Very good film! Very wicked I liked it. Great acting by both Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson, two thumbs up! The story was excellent. I had mixed feeling during the movie thinking of which side to pick on but I just let it go and just watch it developed. Loved the ending.
For three weeks, 14-year-old Hayley Stark has been chatting on-line with 'Lensmaster319', a 32-year old fashion photographer, named Jeff. The two agree to meet at a coffee shop called Nighthawks. They hit it off, despite the massive age difference. Hayley appears to flirt with Jeff, and Jeff generally restrains himself, even admitting that he must wait 4-years until he can be with her. But his reservations are apparently not enough to decline when Hayley all but invites herself over to his house. Once at the house, manipulation becomes the name of the game, and the pedophile seems to be on the non-traditional side of it.
I like the way that at first you instantly know that Patrick WIlsons character is guilty of some sort of child abuse as he's meeting a 14yr old, however then you are introduced to this other side of Ellen Page's character. She is suddenly this revenge seeking vegilate that you get the impression that she's doing it on behalf of a missing friend.
Its a great psychological thriller however i like answer to my questions, i like to know backgrounds to characters that im introduced too.
You arent given any information onto ellen pages character apart from the fact that she is probably insane maybe due to child abuse herself as you find something about the fact her parents dont seem to be on the scene much, but you arent given any indepth information about her character leaving unanswered questions and your just left with speculation.
Other than that i like the originality of the movie, i love the way she manipulates her subjects into doing what she says. Its worth a watch.
This is an excellent role for Ellen Page. She manages to be vulnerable and then scary all within a very short space of time. Where this movie works is that it does make you seriously question who is in the wrong, and it does get to be a pretty grey area by the time "Hayley" has finished!
Most of the time it is just Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson in a room, so it is to both their credits that this film does not become boring or drag in pace.
The thing most frustrating, especially on the re-watch is that it doesn't answer enough questions for my liking by the end. But maybe that is my own failing for wanting everything spelled out. Maybe Hayley was just psychotic, I guess it doesn't really matter.
The script is very well written. Throughout most of the film, I was hoping to get to understand Page's character's motivation, but then I realized that the ambiguity was plot-based and intentional.
What Hard Candy accomplishes is a personification and presentation of everything our public discourse says about pedophiles and pedophilia. "Prison isn't bad enough for them." Check. "Castrate them." Check. "Kill them." Check. And our ultimate response to Page's character should reflect our response to these discourses.