Movie Review: Hard Candy (2005)
Ellen Page became a well-known after her film Juno in 2007. However, Hard Candy, directed by David Slade and written by Brian Nelson, features a different type of character that features her known charmingly sarcastic performance. The comedy in this film is nothing like Juno, used simply to disarm the man she seeks to find answers from.
Hard Candy is a compelling story of a vigilante
The film begins uncomfortably with Hayley Stark (Page), who is a 14-year-old, is having a conversation with Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) on the internet. He’s 18 years older than she, but they meet up for a coffee. The conversations are friendly, but there is a clear sense of creepiness coming from Jeff. Despite his claims that he’d have to wait four years before they could be together, Hayley convinces him to bring her back to her place for a good time. Jeff didn’t take the time to ask Hayley exactly how she defined the idea of “good time” and finds out this 14-year-old has plans of her own.
Page is fantastic in this film and manages to be both charming and terrifying. She believes Jeff is a pedophile and goes to extreme measure to get him to confess. Wilson plays off Page perfectly and definitely gives a great performance. While this small casts does a lot of great things in this film, the issues with it fall on the writing and the direction. They are minor but noticeable.
There are some odd camera movements that bleed into solid color walls and back out again. There is no clear reason for it and it’s often more disorienting visually than needed. Even if Slade’s intent is to put us into Jeff’s mind, the effect falls short of achieving that goal and feels more like an error than an intended movement. The writing often feels redundant as though the stakes were raised too high early on and thus a repetitious quality sets in to stretch the films runtime. Luckily for the film, Page and Wilson are strong enough to keep the audience engaged despite the repetitive action.
Hard Candy is an intriguing revenge film that paired very well with I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore. Both feature female leads that are experimenting in vigilantism. If you’re a fan of Ellen Page then this is a definite watch and is available on Netflix. The film falls into the Decent Watch category as a whole.