After three weeks of chatting with the thirty-two year old photographer Jeff Kohlver over the Internet, fourteen year old Hayley Stark meets him in the Nighthawks coffee shop. Hayley flirts with him in spite of the age difference and proposes to go to his house. Once there, she prepares a screwdriver for them and Jeff passes out. When he awakes, he is tied up to a chair, and Hayley accuses him of pedophilia. Jeff denies the accusation, and Hayley begins to torture him in a cat and mouse game. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Despite the intense emotional and physical content of most rest of the movie, Ellen Page said that one of the hardest scenes to shoot by far was the scene at Nighthawks, where for take after take she had to eat more tiramisu than she could ever want. See more »
When Hayley and Jeff are struggling on the roof in the final scene, the roof appears to be reflecting mid-afternoon sunlight but moments later Jeff is in silhouette against the sunset. See more »
Well. That was disturbing. Though it is not one to recommend for "Family Night," Hard Candy offers an intriguing one-time viewing thanks to the effectiveness of its two-man show approach. Let's make that a one-man, one-girl show. I don't need a rash of emails reminding me of my chauvinism.
What the filmmakers have done is said, "Hey, Patrick Wilson! Ellen Page! We're placing the two of you in a restricted space and putting the entire movie on your shoulders. Best of luck!" Granted, I'm paraphrasing, but this is no exaggeration. There are a total of five people in the movie, and only Wilson and Page are given more than five minutes of screen time. Given this challenge, the two thespians more than hold their own.
I don't know if Wilson should take this as a compliment, but he's very convincing as a dangerously innocent-seeming pedophile. What makes him so creepy is his charm. He's a smooth, suave sexual predator. Most young girls are smart enough to do wind sprints the moment they see a dirty, unkempt man who looks to be carrying more diseases than Paris Hilton.
But Wilson is a good-looking, successful photographer. He can't be bad, right? "You look older than you are, and you certainly act older than you are," he tells Hayley, perfectly manipulating her young, fragile emotions. And hey, he can't be dangerous. After all, he obviously has the most innocent of intentions! Why else would he reassure her that he's aware of the legal boundaries? She's puddy in his hands.
This all starts quietly enough, but once they get to his house gears are shifted and everything goes haywire. That's all I'm revealing regarding the story, but I do have to give kudos to Ms. Page who turns in an impressive performance. I did feel she was a bit too precocious and world-wise at times, but she still does a great job showcasing a wide range of emotions of this potential young victim.
Despite the interesting concept of the two-person show, it clearly has its limitations. At 103 minutes this is just way too long. After a while it becomes too obvious that certain scenes and lines of dialogue are, like most songs on recent Rolling Stones albums, inserted for no other reason than to serve as filler. The worst example being a scene involving Sandra Oh's neighbor character. The only purpose it serves is to deliver a little faux drama. That subplot is dropped faster than Britney Spears' baby, never to be heard from again.
Hard Candy refuses to send you prancing home with a smile on your face or a song in your heart, but if nothing else it serves as a strong warning that you should probably pay close attention to who your kids are communicating with online. At least warn them that sometimes the person they least suspect could be the one to be most wary of.
A quick word of warning to all you guys: there is one particular scene where what we perceive is happening will absolutely make you squirm in your seat. You'll most likely watch it through squinted eyes. I haven't felt that uncomfortable at the theater since the My Own Private Idaho fiasco. I suggest you be prepared.
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