Hard Candy

2006-12-04 17:08

Hayley (Ellen Page) is a mature teenager who suspects that online chatroom lurker Jeff (Patrick Wilson) is a paedophile on the hunt for young girls. She arranges a meeting with him in a public place, and proceeds to set a trap to expose him. A psychological game of cat and mouse ensues as she tries to uncover the truth.


Because of the sensitive subject matter of Hard Candy – paedophiles and sex predators - many people will tend to judge it before they actually see it, or worse, avoid it. It may also be the reason for the lack of publicity surrounding it, and this is understandable, although it is a great pity. Hard Candy is fantastically scripted and acted, and the tension never lets up. It is edge of the seat stuff from beginning to end, which is no mean feat for a film that spends 95% of its running time confined to a single house, with only 2 characters.

It is a great credit to actors Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page for making their characters into such well-rounded human beings. It’s this three-dimensionality that allows the film to surpass thriller stereotypes and provoke thought about the issues concerned. The fairly straightforward story is carried by the performances, and Page particularly shines as Hayley, given the range of emotions and scenes she carries flawlessly. This is particularly impressive considering she is still a teenager herself, and that the content of the film is both disturbing and complex.

Without giving away too much of the plot, there is some fairly harsh psychological violence, and there are several wince inducing scenes, although there is a distinct lack of explicit violence, nudity and gore. Despite this, Hard Candy is probably going to be a difficult viewing for people who don’t like horror or sadism, as all the scenes of torture and violence are possibly more extreme for being understated. Horror fans on the other hand, would do well to give it a chance, as it chills the blood without any cheap trickery or CG effects.

Ultimately, if you can deal with the subject matter, Hard Candy is tense, exciting, and delivers thrills with absolutely no dead screen time. The acting is fantastic, and script is economical and mostly believable. There are some narrative strands that could have been explained slightly better, but all in all, it is a brilliant and watchable film.

- Ivan Sadler
In this gritty psychological thriller a tenacious teen tries to trap a photographer and suspected paedophile who she has befriended online.

Mike 2006/09/01 5:12 PM
Wrong psycho babble use... A maniac whos into sex with girls of 14 is not a paedophile - a paedophile per se according to the psychiatric definition is an individual who seeks sexual relations with children under 13 ie preteen children. This guy may be a child molester but unless this 'teen' is under 13 he isn't a pedophile.
Anthony 2006/11/07 6:33 PM
Awful film Hard Candy is possibly one of the worst films I've ever seen (and I'm not prone to hyperbole). It is neither clever nor poignant. The setup and characters are contrived and unbelievable. The young girl (actually 17 years old at time of shooting) is portrayed as precisely what the film objects to; it objectifies her as pretty, intelligent and very sexually savvy. There is nothing thought-provoking it at all (unless you're concerned with seeing how NOT to make a film). It usurps a very important, complex issue and neatly glosses over it to create a pseudo-psychological-thriller. Don't bother. There are many better films with this sort of subject matter that deal with it in a far more interesting, thought-provoking way (eg. Lolita, Care.)
Jack 2007/01/31 8:45 PM
Finer points Interesting film indeed. Not just the subject matter and portrayal thereof, but the technical aspects, too. I was talked into watching this (against my own will), and I must say, i do not regret it. Not that it was a fantastic film, hardly; it was just slightly different from your average psycho-thriller. In my humble opinion this isn't really a mainstream film; it pretends to be arty, as can be made no less prominent by the cinematography. It looks like an expensive TV-advert. Take the scene in the car, for instance. I could have sworn it was a car ad, everything was in slow-mo, ethereal music / ambience, the works. All it needed was a logo. In the opening sequence, among the credits were 'digital colourist'. Digital colourist?? First time I've seen that in opening credits. I suspect that this film has been telecined to death, much like everything else nowadays, 'Domino' being an example. The symbolism was just a bit too in-your-face. The blindingly obvious red on the walls b
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.