Movie Review: Hard Candy

Its an engrossing thriller that will keep you strapped into your seat. A stellar performance by Ellen Page highlight the movie’s morally gray plot, which makes for an absorbing cat and mouse game. But after confusing the audience throughout the movie in who’s really the innocent and the victim, it takes a serious topic and ends with nothing to say.

The movie opens up with what would happen if Chris Hansen doesn’t intervene. A flirtatious chat between an underage girl and an older guy then a meet up, which eventually ends up with the girl at the guy’s bachelor pad.

Hayley, an underage girl, meets up with a 30 something fashion photographer that she’s been chatting with in the internet. Jeff looks harmless but his presence there doesn’t make him less of a creep either – casually wiping off the chocolate from her lips with his thumb and kissing her feet. But Hayley’s flirting too and with her suggestion they go to his place.

Things take a sudden turn as Jeff finds himself tied to a chair,  and Hayley suddenly flips out into some victim avenging torturer. At the start Hayley tries to find out if Jeff had anything to do with a disappearance of a girl whose picture was found in his collection, but the movie trails off from this pursuit and turns into a torture movie with a cat and mouse game that turns progressively vague. Jeff is a pedophile but you don’t really know the extent of his crimes. Hayley is a vigilante bordering on being a psychopath. There are times that she’s actually more scary (being able to manipulate Jeff and psychologically torture him all throughout the film) and some people would probably even root for Jeff because of this.

In the end we know nothing more of what we already saw. Jeff’s crimes is still undetermined. While Hayley proclaims to be the avenger of every girl he has taken advantage of, she doesn’t care whatever the extent of his involvement is, which we still don’t know.

The ending is quite pointless and make it seem like pedophilia is just used as a jumping off platform to stage a torture film, but its ambiguity will stay with you. Up to know I still don’t know who really was the predator and the prey. Overall its a powerful, controversial film, but won’t exactly fit everyone’s taste.

My Rating: 7/10

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Brian says:

    I saw it 2 years ago, so it’s hard to recall every aspect of it, but I found it to be worth watching – a thought provoking film. I had picked it cuz it has Ellen Page, and was ready to be creeped out, when in the middle of it, there was that turn of the tables, and wow, that was a nice twist to pull to lead to the issues you mentioned.

    I like to watch some scary movies to freak myself out before bed sometimes, but when I’ve tried any of the torture movies of recent years, they didn’t work for me at all – they were just disgusting and sometimes cartoonish. I prefer movies that keep the realistic feel about them all the way through.

    With Hard Candy, I never felt like they were using it to gratuitously put some violence out there. I think the idea was to make us all consider the heavy topics of crime and punishment, and consider whether an individual is acting in the right with vigilante justice.

    For the whole film (after the shift to Page taking control), I was trying to determine if the girl was the true monster or not. I was keeping an open mind that maybe the guy is innocent and she’s out of control, but by the end of it, I forget the details, but I had concluded that he was definitely guilty of some terrible stuff. Whether she should’ve gone that far to punish him or not, I don’t think I ever resolved in my head.

    But I do recall the excellent song that played with the end credits rolling – something by Blonde Redhead.

    1. The Self-Proclaimed Writer says:

      After all that exhausting cat and mouse game and endless play on the borderline between violence and social justice, I felt it was pointless to end the film w/o any real message. I don’t think its exactly gratuitous but the movie doesn’t really say anything in the end so I can’t help but walk away feeling like it was some kind of torture film.

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