Hard Candy (2005) Poster


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Great acting and film making!
Luckie Starr12 May 2005
I was lucky enough to be in one of the first test audiences for this film in Los Angeles. Knowing nothing about the film except that it's being described as suspense/horror, and stars Patrick Wilson and a 14 year old girl, I went in expecting another bad to mediocre slash film. I couldn't have been more wrong!

Hard Candy is an intense psychological drama, with incredible performances by both Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson. The two actors are practically the only two people with lines in the film, aside from some brief appearances by Sandra Oh and Jennifer Holmes. Thusfar I have only seen Wilson in The Alamo and Phantom of the Opera, but I was blown away with how he handled this performance. The slow, suspenseful film is set mainly in the Los Angeles home of photographer Jeff, a 32 year old man whom Hayley, a mature 14 year old girl who met him online, suspects to be a pedophile. The pacing was steady, and phenomenal - after a brief exposition we get into the real suspense about 20 minutes into the film, and it doesn't let up from there. The cinematography and camera work went excellently with the film. Rather than being extremely gory, the adult themes of the film lead to a more psychological creepiness. There are also questions that remain unanswered until the end of the film, when everything is wrapped up nicely - leaving you puzzled to the true identities and motives of the characters throughout most of the duration.

Horror films are not my cup of tea, but psychological drama is. An early fall release date has been rumored, and I can only hope this movie doesn't get lost in the shuffle between summer blockbusters and Oscar season. I also hope Lion's Gate markets this film for what it is, and doesn't try to aim for fans of slash, or a teen crowd.
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Excellent movie, but be aware it may be disturbing by the subject of it.
ekiza2318 October 2005
This is a film about a girl of 14 years old and a 32 years old guy. It is a movie about Hayley (more than excellent Ellen Page) and Jeff, about pedophilia and about how a pedophile must feel. Or maybe it is only a history of vengeance. You won't know until the end of the film. It sure is a difficult subject for a movie, but the script is excellently profiled in the psychological horror and does not turn to be obscene or anything than can visually or verbally hurt the sensibility of anyone. It is more like disturbing to hear a teenage girl speak how she does, and it is fascinating how your feelings will go from one character to the other during the movie until you realize that no matter what the end is, everyone is guilty of something and it is not to us, humans, to decide what bad actions can be justified by other bad actions.

Try on it, and be open-minded.

Sorry about any orthographic mistake, I'm not used to English writing.
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I have never craved the sweet escape of death so much in my life
Nirak_the_Destructor12 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Pardon me if that sounded emo, but this movie killed me a little bit on the inside. I ached every time I thought about it over the next couple of weeks. I was really excited to see Hard Candy at first. I thought it looked neat. I liked the cover, and the synopsis on the back intrigued me. So, like a fool, I rented it.

Oh my God. What happened to character development? They made the effort with Jeff. They had him tell one story about his past. One. It wasn't much, but it was enough that I grew to like him, just a little bit. Unfortunately, it shouldn't have been Jeff that I was growing to like, and, possibly, love. It should have been Hayley. Here's this little psychotic girl who's running around drugging pedophiles so she can kill them and saying, "I am every little girl you've ever touched!" over and over again. She was a total pain in the ass. I wanted her to die. I wanted Jeff to break free, kill her, and then go get some therapy to help him quit having sex with children. That shouldn't have been the case. I should have been on Hayley's side, which I would have been if she'd actually had a past that allowed me to empathize with her motives.

I sat through the whole movie because I truly believed that somewhere in the film a real plot would emerge, or some characters would start to develop, or someone would cut out Hayley's tongue so she would finally shut up.

I loathed this movie. I have to leave for school now, but trust me, if I had time, I could go into so much more detail. This movie sucked.
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Worst film of the year
howie733 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This tasteless and smug "psychological thriller" has been the subject of many rave reviews by critics who have little knowledge of what film actually is. Hard Candy thinks its daring and contemporary with its slick MTV visuals, but it resembles an advert more than a film in its self-conscious stylised mis en scene. But Hard Candy doesn't want to be shallow. It wants to be intellectual. And what do you get? A "heroine" who is as morally reprehensible as her victim. A heroine who spouts references and smart talk beyond her years. This just doesn't wash. Hayley, if we can call her that, is not really a character; she is a just a mouthpiece for Brian Nelson's pretentious dialogue. Her self-satisfied talk is annoying and unconvincing and is part of the reason why Hard Candy is such an astonishing failure of a film – a fact supported by its dismal Box Office performance. Hayley is simply not a sympathetic character and neither is Jeff, and the film's penchant for ambiguity further clouds any sense of background and motive that might justify what is happening in this trashy, faux art-house film. The film also has no sense of irony and subtlety: Nelson could have made points about the hypocrisy of Hayley and the role-reversals she undertakes but that would have disrupted the smug dialogue.

Hard Candy is also one of the most implausible films committed to celluloid. I am not convinced why Hayley did what she did; how far she planned everything to the last detail and what her motives were. The film barely explains why she did what she did, save the stilted dialogue at the end which further reinforces the film's desperation to be ambiguous. Even the brief appearance by Sandra Oh as the inquisitive neighbour is an embarrassment. Why didn't she ask about the blood on Hayley's forehead? The script is to busy being smart to gloss over such inconsistencies. The acting is also very annoying, especially Ellen Page, who was a bit one-dimensional in her role. Avoid this nasty, amoral little film.
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Crossed the line
Mark Larsen24 May 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I could not believe what I saw, I did not read anything about this movie before I saw it, I only quickly read that Sandra Oh plays in it. I mean why the hell does she want to play in movie like this, a cool actress like her? I expected a sensitive drama about child abuse, something intelligent.

No one and nothing can prepare you for this movie. This is not Hostel, Wolf Creek or Touristas. This horror/sick reality film is made so good, that it's simply painful to watch. It's either a ten or a one. I decided that it would be a one.

Are the filmmakers proud to have made such a movie? Do they think they do us a favor so that we can talk about it and discuss what happened here? If the girl had rights to do what she did? Seriously what do we get from this movie? Is it entertainment? For me it was surely not, you have to be out of your mind to be entertained by this. Was it inspiring? I am still a bit under shock from what I saw.

Reality check: I mean we don't get into how a 14 year old girl would overcome a 32 year old guy and tie him up in a chair or stretch him out on an operating table and into a position to hang himself? Then he gets out from his chain, after the operation and it seems like it was easy. So why he did not get out before? Then at the door with the Asian woman she loses her wits suddenly? Then the guy walks around the house like nothing happened?

Anyway, the filmmakers clearly let the girl get away with what she did. Child abuse is bad, but to inspire people to take justice into their own hands is worse.
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Why are so many bad movies rated so highly on IMDb?
burnt_orange_zombie31 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Read any of the myriad of one star reviews on this film to see how I feel about it.

What's puzzling to me is how many people can honestly like something that is so bad? And its not the whole sex abuser versus torture thing. I don't care about the debate of whether she was right or wrong--that only justifies the filmmakers attempt to make it "controversial." Its the fact that the dialog is awful, and clichéd. That pretty quickly a 14-year old girl disappears and instead becomes the screenwriter's narration, which is didactic and preachy, and a tad bit condescending.

A 14-year old girl could never haul around the dead weight of an adult male, or female for that matter. The kick in the head he gives her would have left her dazed for much longer than what happens. When he rammed his chair against her pinning her against the wall, repeatedly, it would have incapacitated her pretty severely. Of course, the consequence of that would have been her passing out while he dies from saran wrap asphyxiation.

And all her rope tying and again, moving what has to be at least a 175lbs all over the place like its nothing is something most adult men couldn't do, much less a 14-year old girl.

It goes on and on. She talks him into committing suicide? What? And he buys into it? This movie is awful for many reasons, but the main one is that is simply stupid. And worse, its predictable. We know in advance that every escape attempt he makes will be thwarted. Why? Well, because its too early in the film for him to escape. So why even draft that, Mr. Screenwriter of Crap? We know when he picks up the gun that he won't kill her. Because your pretension is unfortunately not only sloppy in its failure to cover galaxy sized holes, its also predictable. And predictable is boring.

And to the IMDb reviewers, can you please quit writing that the acting is good even if you hate the plot. The acting is not good. At all. This thing stinks to high heaven. The color scheme came from one of those home design television shows you see on the tube.

Oh, and another little annoyance--anyone notice how the bar he picks her up in has the exact same walls as his home? I checked in the trivia, and it is because apparently it was filmed in the same place. Wow, nice job of hiding that. "not." Anyone who recommends this movie is not your friend and should not be trusted for any opinions on movies as they are morons. Which unfortunately appears to be a really big chunk of the IMDb reviewers.
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johno-2131 January 2006
I saw this at a late night screening at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and of the 35 films I saw there I would rank this #4. for about the first 10 minutes I didn't know if I was going to like it or where it was going to go but man once this roller-coaster starts moving it's a psychological thriller. Great stylized look to this film too. The acting and story is intense and you can't avert your eyes from the screen even though there are times where you think you might have to. I like movies that have the feel of a stage play and the emotional volleyball between the two principal actors is amazing. A little far-fetched but so what. This is a good movie. I give it a 8.5 out of a possible 10 and would recommend this film.
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Simply awful.
BesmirchedTea20 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Hard Candy is a film about whether you can torture someone into admitting crimes they didn't commit. Unfortunately, in this film, the torturer turns out to be the hero... A hero I was never behind for a minute. Over the top acting on a predictable script, so many impossibilities and plot holes that it is hard to suspend disbelief for very long, and a leading lady that looks like a boy all add up to a miss. The only surprise in the film for me was that she didn't reveal herself to be a boy after all this.

The lighting was not bad at all, though. That's the one point that I gave this horrible piece of work. Never have the words "an hour and a half of my life that I'll never get back" been more deserved.

However, if you are a teenage girl with notions of vigilante vengeance, this movie might give you some confidence, since she superhumanly pulls it off with barely a scratch. You wonder why this child genius is not working for the police already, since she is able to solve a crime weeks before the homicide unit can.

Since the girl is 14, there is no nudity, no sex, relatively little violence, not even much swearing. I don't know why this thing is rated R, except to fool people into thinking it might be some kind of suspense thriller. It is clearly a PG13, and is safe for teens to watch...

If Haley really wanted to torture Jeff, she should have just shown him this film. He would have admitted anything at that point.
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akoldertsova0214 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
if you are in the mood for some serious sadomasochism, and please take note of the word 'serious', this might be a movie for you. otherwise, i would advise to save the 2 hours of your life. trust me, even watching commercials of soap is more useful/interesting/exciting. somehow, the creators of this wonderful piece forgot to mention the word 'pedophelia' in its description. I am not sure how this is possible given that this is the point of the movie - well, it does not really have a point, but this is what this 'film' allegedly tries to explore (without, I might add coming to any conclusion or a hint of thereof). when you watch the preview for this chef d'oeuvre, it sets up an intrigue of older man meeting a younger girl of in the net. interesting. here is a preview of this the trailer omits: a crazed teenager trying to cut the testicles of an alleged offender for about half an hour. A Saturday night killer (and by that I mean your Saturday night). Actually, this movie can kill the mood of any evening. so just to sum up, if you are in the mood for some sadomasochism, you have found what you are looking for. otherwise, as I said, even soap commercials are better. at least they don't leave you nauseous.
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sharifgraham1129 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This was about the most uncomfortable, disturbing film I have seen in a long time. It has just been released in France (September, 2006). The acting was is places very good, even excellent, but making a 14-year-old into a brilliant revenge killer for a pedophile does not send an acceptable message. In fact, any male who sits through the castration scene could not possibly emerge with any empathy whatsoever for the girl! There is extreme moral confusion here, and the pedophile is actually a more sympathetic character than the girl. Even so, the movie lets her "win", and one can easily imagine a series of sequels in which she forces any number of evil men to do themselves in. Apparently, as with many other films, the idea of personal, extra-legal revenge still has appeal for some people, even though it represents reversion to a method a addressing evil which has caused untold suffering throughout human history. I maintain that the film is immoral as well as revolting. I advise my friends not even to think of seeing it. I don't think I have ever felt so strongly against a film in my life (I'm 64 years old).
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