After having online chat room chats for three weeks, "Thonggrrrl14" convinces "Lensman319" to meet in person in a public place, they being up front that they are a fourteen year old girl and thirty-two year old man respectively. They are indeed precocious fourteen year old Hayley Stark and thirty-two year old photographer Jeff Kohlver. Their interactions, including their meeting, are laced with indirect sexual innuendo, most specifically on Hayley's part, although Jeff is clear also in an indirect manner that he does not have sex with minors. Regardless, Hayley is further able to convince Jeff to continue their face-to-face at his place. There, both Hayley and Jeff's true intentions come to light, their meeting which was no accident on either side, and the intentions which may be incompatible and have serious and deadly consequences. Written by
I just screened this film at LGF last night. I was quite intrigued for the first forty minutes. Then it all kind of fell apart for me. In it's best moments this film explores the complexities of vengeance and psychology. It tries to be clever by pulling a role reversal -- but this eventually wears thin and the dialog becomes didactic and contrived. I still think it is worth seeing for the strength of the leads alone. Patrick Wilson does a fine job as a "suspected" pedophile. He elicits both sympathy and disgust. Ellen Page as the young girl is absolutely fantastic. Her performance is brilliant and even frightening at times. She's good even when the script can't match her talent. I look forward to seeing her in many films to come. Finally a young actress who is more than just a pretty face -- I'm so tired of the Natalie Portmans, the Hillary Duffs, and the Jessica Albas of the world. Good luck with your career Ms. Page.
All in all, Hard Candy is worth seeing. Maybe I'm just a sucker for movies with tiny casts and realtime pacing. But there are some genuinely suspenseful moments in the film, although in the hands of lesser actors these scenes would disintegrate. And though I was annoyed by the contrivances and implausibilities of the script, I found myself the next day thinking about some of the issues raised therein.
At times Hard Candy reminded me of Polanski's Death and the Maiden, though H.C. is nowhere near as good. Ellen Page's Haley character is similar to Sigourney Weaver's character in the Polanski film. Both women are terrifying through the cold precision of their revenge. The problem with the Haley character is that she would have to be supernatural to accomplish the things she does in this film. And of course if she was supernatural, we'd have a completely different film on our hands -- High Plains Drifter.
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