Hard Candy (2005)

DAVID SLADE

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5

USA, 2005.  Lions Gate Films, Vulcan Productions, Launchpad Productions.  Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , , .  Music by , .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by Online Film Critics Awards 2006.  Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2006.   

Fourteen year-old Haley (Ellen Page) flirts with 32 year-old Jeff () online and makes a plan to meet with him in person. They go back to his place where they enjoy some drinks and get flirty until he passes out, waking up later tied to a chair and woozy from having been drugged. Haley, it seems, has ensnared him into a trap and plans on exacting punishment upon him for being a pedophile and child molester. As her anger carries outself out in more alarming ways throughout the film, however, we begin to wonder if maybe she’s not quite as stable as we thought, and if perhaps Jeff shouldn’t be punished for every sexual crime in the world. After all, having a taste for teenaged girls isn’t exactly child molestation, or is it? We learn quite a few things about both of these characters that pull us in various directions in this scintillating film that was shot in barely twenty days and doesn’t show it at all. Never preachy, and thankfully never exploitative despite the possibilities of its subject matter, the film takes to task the human indulgence in the abuse of power, from any gender, age or justification. The powerful screenplay is never compromised by first-time director David Slade, who provides rich images but doesn’t overpower the words with flashy tricks. Page is one-note in her performance, charismatic but a bit too self-aware, while Wilson couldn’t possibly be more intense: his uninhibited descent into total terror is wholly engrossing and is the film’s greatest asset.

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