Friday, February 23, 2018

Film Review: Hard Candy (2005)

Hard Candy (Review)
United States/2005
Format Viewed for Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It dares to enter taboo territory, and I applaud it for it that."

A teenage girl baits and captures a man in a plot to expose him as a pedophile.

Hard Candy follows Hayley (Ellen Page), a 14-year-old girl, and Jeff (Patrick Wilson), a 32-year-old photographer. After developing a relationship over the internet, Jeff and Hayley meet at a café, then they decide to go back to Jeff's house. At the house, Haley continues to flirt with Jeff until she drugs him and ties him to a chair. When he awakens, she reveals her true intentions: she wants to expose Jeff as a pedophile. Of course, Jeff refutes the claim, but there are a lot of secrets in his house. The rest of the plot is basically Hayley torturing Jeff, physically and psychologically. It leads to an interesting ending. I liked the ending, but it felt underwhelming compared to the rest of the movie.

Hard Candy is a great movie. Obviously, you have to suspend disbelief for many scenes, it's not completely realistic, but it's a movie—that's not a big deal, really. It doesn't take too many liberties anyway. The plot is simple but effective. It takes place in one setting, so most of the film is efficient and effective—it doesn't have to jump around or anything like that. Its themes are presented with an uncompromising hand. It is ruthless and blunt, but it gets its message across well. If you're very sensitive to the subject—especially if you're sensitive to violence, even if it's off-screen—this might not be the movie for you. I thought the direction was fine, though. The plot deals with a nasty subject, so expect a nasty presentation. The film does lose some steam during its second half, though. The simplicity of the plot works as a double-edged sword: it creates a smooth, plug-and-play experience, but it also leaves room for boredom. In other words, it's a 100-minute movie that can feel like a two-hour feature at times.

The acting was great, though. Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page were phenomenal. Being the only characters in the plot, except for two minor characters, they surprisingly held the movie together and dominated the screen. The film uses very little music, which ultimately works in its favor. It feels tense and serious. The film was also shot well. It's very stylish and slick, from its cinematography to its camerawork. The film was written by Brian Nelson and directed by David Shade. Nelson's writing is effective. It's doesn't delve too deep into its subject, but it gets its point across. Shade's direction was also great. He has an eye for visuals and I personally enjoyed his unflinching vision. The film wouldn't have been as effective if it pussy-footed around the subject.

Overall, Hard Candy was a very good movie. It has a few issues, but it's still worth watching. It's suspenseful, it's creepy, and it's effective. It also deals with a rare subject. It dares to enter taboo territory, and I applaud it for it that. The acting is also top-notch.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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