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Often I read reviews on here about films and then purchase them on Amazon.co.uk and this was one that I read lots of reviews about and really fancied taking a look at.
Film Only Review:
14-year-old Hayley (Ellen Page) and 32-year-old photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson) meet on an online teen chat site. There is flirtation between the pair and it seems that they have been chatting for a while online when Hayley then arranges to meet Jeff in a cafe out of the blue and spur of the moment. Hayley flirts with Jeff and he seems totally into the young girl who then suggests going back to Jeffs house. At first he is a little resistant but back at his house Hayley suggests drinks and they both get a bit more flirtatious and get merry with Hayley really turning up the heat on Jeff, dancing provocatively in front of him but the next thing is Jeff has passed out and is tied to a chair and it soon dawns on him and us as to why he is in this situation, why Hayley is doing it to him and how much he is danger.... and believe me he really is in danger now!
I really don't want to give too much plot away with this as it really is a worthwhile and makes you think watch. Hayley is a plain 14 year old, by that I mean she looks 14 and isn't dolled up to mislead anyone she isn't 14 however her brain works much older and she is very much in control of the situation she gets into and seems wiser than her years. Ellen Page excels as the teenage girl showing maturity and power along with an insecurity and a childishness and like I say this is a film that really stopped me in my tracks and evaluate my morals and opinions.
On one hand you have an older, successful man who obviously likes the young girls however for me it was like Hayley was doing the running but you have to remember that at the end of the day she is still a child which is her message to him. She has a vendetta against him for reasons that soon become apparent and some would even describe her as a vigilante but is she right in what she is doing? You'll come to your own conclusion about that I'm sure!
This is a dark film, with a dark subject matter with excellent performances from both of the main leads and I was on the edge of my seat to see it through to the end as to whether Jeff would get out of a very dangerous situation or not with me toing and froeing with whether I wanted him to be ok or not....but everything that happens to him in this film happens for a reason......
The film never dragged though the music in it was unmemorable and its an 18 rating with good reason to be due to a bit of violence and a bit of blood this really is a thriller that got my blood pumping and held my interest really very well indeed and it gets a thumbs up from me!
I bought my copy on Amazon for a couple of quid new though Google if interested of course!
RELEASED: 2005, Cert. 18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 105 mins
DIRECTOR: David Slade
PRODUCERS: Michael Caldwell, David Higgins & Richard Hutton
SCREENPLAY: Brian Nelson
MUSIC: Harry Escott & Molly Nyman
Patrick Wilson as Jeff Kohlver
Ellen Page as Hayley Stark
FILM ONLY REVIEW
After having a few chat sessions with one another on the internet, Hayley and Jeff decide to meet up for a coffee.
Initially, 32-year-old photographer Jeff appears surprised that Hayley is only fourteen, but he seems to find her wide-eyed innocence and teenage enthusiasms quite endearing.
Hayley agrees to go back to Jeff's house, where after a couple of drinks that she insists on mixing herself and flipping through a few photos of young models that Jeff shows her, Hayley makes it obvious that she believes he is a paedophile.
Hard Candy is a film that focuses on the topic of paedophilia, but it isn't quite what one would expect. It opens easily, with Jeff and boyish, naïve-seeming Hayley meeting up for coffee, chatting easily to one another. However, once the scene moves to Jeff's house is when I can say that the situation gets well out of hand.
This is a film which is very strong on dialogue, and I was pleased that both of the main characters spoke clearly....a rarity in modern American productions! The acting from both Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page is superb, and they worked extremely well together, perfecting what must have been two very difficult parts to play.
I can't say that I had any awareness of a film score for most of the time although a little borderline avant-garde percussive music did filter into my consciousness now and again....but, it is my view that Hard Candy is a production which could easily do without any music due to the concentration being 100% on the two main characters and how they interact.
One thing I did find very uncomfortable was that at certain points during the film, the camera was whizzed about quite frenetically, which made viewing those scenes difficult...difficult to the point where I had to turn my head away from the screen. I understand that this was done for effect, but I feel such to have been completely unnecessary, simply because what is happening on the screen stands up perfectly well on its own, and to tweak it for the purposes of special effect added a touch of unreality rather than did anything to enhance the atmosphere.
Hard Candy is a film that many people may choose to avoid once they learn that it centres around the subject of paedophilia, but I would urge anybody to, if they can, cast aside their preconceived ideas, as what actually happens in the film isn't what one would expect and perhaps anticipate.
I could see a similarity between Hard Candy and another well-known film (which I can't say the title of as it may border upon being a spoiler), although the actual storylines are different, yet the basic concept is the same.
Around 99% of Hard Candy takes place in Jeff's house with nobody else present except for him and Hayley, and there are a few surprises along the way as well as a fair dose of brutality, but such brutality is quite tastefully handled, despite a couple of aspects which I'm sure would make most people cringe.
I am trying to work out whether I think Hard Candy is over the top or not. Part of me thinks that something like this would never happen, yet the other part of me realises a bit more each day that there are some extremely disturbed people wandering loose in the world, so it could be feasible to suggest that under extreme circumstances, there may be a remote possibility of something like this actually occurring?
Whilst watching Hard Candy, I found myself anticipating certain directions the film would move along, but I was wrong each time, which provided me with a refreshing element of surprise, as the story turns out to be less predictable than at first appears. It also raises one or two questions regarding Jeff's part in the whole setup....but to know what I mean you'd have to see the film for yourself.
Overall I really enjoyed Hard Candy, but was very frustrated with the camera effects, and perhaps I'd like to have seen the tension levels hiked up a bit, but nevertheless it is a very interesting film which I can't say is entertaining exactly, but it certainly is unusual bearing in mind the angle the story is approached from. Perhaps Hard Candy could be something I'd consider watching again, as I have a feeling it might penetrate more deeply into my psyche on second viewing.
I'm tempted to hand out a warning because of the subject matter of Hard Candy, but from the paedophile aspect, I don't think it is necessary. However, some people may find a few of the more brutal scenes too disturbing to watch, even though they are well done and nothing which is hinted at is shown. It certainly is a mostly well put together film, with some rather stupendous acting from the two lead characters, so that in itself may be enough to tempt those who are curious but hesitant.
At the time of writing, Hard Candy can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: from £1.86 to £29.99
Used: from 38p to £100.00 (why???)
Collectible: only one copy currently available @ £5.99
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~
In recent years, Hollywood has become slightly obsessed with paedophile movies, or at least the notion that a person might be. In films like The Woodsman and Little Children, the perpetrator rather than the usual victim is brought centre-stage in an attempt to create sympathy for these characters. No matter how many times we are told it isn't their fault, it is almost impossible to work up any sympathy for a person who would molest a child.
Jeff Kohlver is a successful photographer who lives by himself and has a penchant for teenage girls on chatrooms. His walls are covered in poses that he has taken of aspiring models who might or might not be of jailbait age. When he chats to clever Hayley he arranges to meet her in a coffee house. She is seemingly impressed by his knowledge of the bands and literature that is relevant to her, and agrees to go home with him. They both seem to follow all the rules that apply, he encourages her to let her sister know where she is, she refuses to let him mix her drinks for her. Its a shame he didn't apply those rules for himself, because a time later he wakes up from a drugged stupor tied to a chair. What seems to begin as a game of control on her part soon takes a sinister turn as it becomes apparent that she has another agenda.
Initially, we are invited to sympathise more with Jeff, as he becomes the probable victim of a vindictive young woman. By not revealing her age early on, or clarifying his innocence or guilt over her charges, the film allows the audience to feel for him rather than loathing him from the very outset. Is it more likely that Jeff is just a letcherous 20-something rather than a child abuser? The tension that builds in the film is largely created from that premise and is made all the more plausable by good performances.
Patrick Wilson is blinding in his role as he starts off the film bug-eyed and creepy, but then becoming a sympathetic character who almost wins you over. Ellen Page is equally good, switching flawlessly between wide eyed awe-struck teenager and rage-induced psychopath. As the film lies solely on their shoulders, anything less convincing would probably have let the whole thing down. The plot itself is slightly improbable. Page delivers all those smart lines with wit and maturity, far beyond what most teenagers are probably capable of.
The director plays havoc with your senses, pulling back and forth around the tight set and giving you an air of claustrophobia. There are moments where it all seems rather far-fetched, but it culminates in a brilliantly filmed tense 90 minutes of film that will have your eyes watering more than once, as well as taking it in turns to route for the victim and the villian (which is which isn't always clear) in equal turns. The biggest crime of the film though has to be the complete underuse of Grey's Antomy star Sandra Oh, who is thrown away on one pointless scene which could have been the setting up of an alternative and equally interesting finale.
There is a great little documentary on the extra section which allows the director and a few of the crew to take you through the progression of the film, and talk about how the material came about. There's not much to the extra's, but its great to see a low budget thriller so well made and dealing effectively with a subject matter that a lot of directors would shy away from. The DVD is available from online retailers and high street stores.
**Film Only Review**
The film opens with a computer screen showing a conversation in an internet chat room....clearly a flirtation is going on between Thonggrrrrrl14 and Lensman319 - and in the course of this conversation they agree to meet up. Lensman319 turns out to be Jeff (Patrick Wilson), a 32 year old photographer, and Thonggrrrrrl14 is Hayley (Ellen Page), a 14 year old would-be Lolita. They agree to go back to Jeff's house where Hayley necks Vodka, dances provokatively around the house and then begs Jeff to take photos of her (including topless photos) which he consents to do. During the course of this, Jeff blacks out (he's been drugged by Hayley) - and when he wakes he is strapped to the kitchen table with Hayley now in position as his tormentor.
Critics have argued that Jeff's guilt is never made completely clear to the audience because he never makes a full confession and you never see the "evidence" first hand. I beg to differ and feel that his guilt is very clear, although whether there would be enough evidence to convict him in a court of law is another matter. And therein lies the problem. Not guilty is not the same as innocent, and I think this film portrays that concept very very well. We see him meeting up with a 14 year old girl, offering to take photos of her, agreeing to take photos of her topless, taking her back to his house, giving her alcohol, and he has locked away photos (which we never see) of teenage girls - and still many question his guilt or innocence?? As Hayley says, "I mean, you're the grown up here. If a kid is experimenting and says something flirtatious, you ignore it, you don't encourage it! If a kid says 'Hey, let's make screwdrivers!' You take the alcohol away, and you don't race them to the next drink!"
I think this very fact delivers a very important message which is prevalent among many in our society. Most view paedophiles to be stereotypically dirty old men dressed up in rain macs who sinisterly invite children into their cars with promises of sweets or the chance to see a puppy. And the reality isn't like that. Jeff appears, to all intents and purposes, a good guy. He's reasonably attractive, charming, nice, likable, and he doesn't look or act like the image we have of what a paedophile looks like - and maybe this is threatening to us? Unfortunately, as I know from experience, the stereotypical paedophile is very much life Jeff where to all intents and purposes they are seen my outsiders as "a good guy".
This film also highlights the problem of secrecy and the lack of voice that the victim of child abuse is given. In this film we never see or hear from any of Jeff's victims and we never have conclusive evidence that anything ever happened. And how often is this the case in child abuse cases? How often is the victim either unable to speak or unable to come forward and report it? And so much of child abuse goes unpunished because there is no hard irrefutable evidence. As Jeff hints, the topless photos are not about underage pornography but about art - and that's impossible to prove or disprove without the voice of the victim.
It does lead us to question our socially defined limits of when its acceptable to view a person as a sexual object. Hayley is clearly very aware of her sexuality and how to use this in a very adult way. Jeff is undoubtedly attracted to her - and I guess this asks us to question whether it is wrong of Jeff to be attracted to a 14 year old girl - or whether it is just wrong to act on those feelings.
Hayley acts as judge and jury and her vigilantism is probably not going to draw much sympathy from the viewer. Did I feel sorry for her? Probably not. But despite her playing a cold and calculating aggressor who's executes her plan with a lot of maturity and precision, I also felt that a certain child-like vulnerability shone through. It was this child-like quality, combined with her child elfin looks that did make me warm to her, to want to protect her and to understand her.
I would have liked to have been aware a little more of her background and her motive so that I could have understood what drove her and what made her tick. There are clues to point to the possibility that she was infact a victim of child sexual abuse. For example, the film never really answers the question of why Hayley is so sexually aware and able to manipulate Jeff's attraction to her in a seemingly childlike yet incredibly knowing way. Hayley also carries out her "torture" of Jeff with an emotional detachment which may make her come across as hard and psychopathic, but it is also a useful defense mechanism which is very common among survivors of childhood trauma. Additionally, her hatred of Jeff feels very personal despite it being clear that he's never actually hurt her in any way, and yet she delivers the line "I am every little girl you ever watched, touched, hurt, screwed, killed" with such rectitude and sincerity that I could not help but be moved by her plight.
The acting by both Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page is fantastic. Patrick Wilson probably has the opportunity to display more of a range in his acting ability in terms of the emotions he expresses over a relatively short period of time. However, the star of the film is undoubtedly Ellen Page who's acting is absolutely sublime. There is something incredibly compelling about her. The presence she has on the screen is not something that can be taught - and it just is that she has that "something".....the X-Factor which is so hard to accurately define. She stands out as something special and she manages to keep the audience watching even through some of the slower moving scenes and I was constantly anticipating her next move. Her performance as a psychopathic 14 year old child is not only chilling and unnerving, but is also interspersed with the ability to provide humour that is delivered with perfect comic timing.
The interaction between Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page really did have to be spot on in order for this film to work because the vast majority of the film takes place inside Jeff's house and Jeff and Hayley are the only characters present. There is a lot of dialogue between the pair and there isn't much in terms of action, but despite this, the film works because of the quality of the interplay between Wilson and Page.
The only other cast member of note is the wonderful Sandra Oh (Grey's Anatomy) who plays a small cameo role as Jeff's neighbour.
I did find the ending of the film somewhat disappointing because somewhere, in the closing ten minutes or so, the film loses the tension it has dramatically built on throughout. It's not so much what happens at the end that is disappointing, but more that the way in which it is delivered is impassionate and almost clinical in its execution.
The film literally has zero soundtrack with only two songs (Freak & Elephant Woman) credited to it, but this does not leave the film lacking. The silent background adds to the suspense and tension and exacerbates the sense of Jeff's isolation and his mercy at the hands of Hayley.
Overall this is a great psychological thriller that asks difficult and controversial questions that don't have any easy answers. Despite the fact that there is no graphic violence in the film it is a disturbing film to watch, although there are comic moments from Ellen Page which momentarily lighten the mood - but these are brief reprieves. The acting is fantastic, as is the quality and depth of the script (Brian Nelson). This is a film I highly recommend, and even if you don't like it, I guarantee you will have something to say about it.
Running time: 104 minutes
Certificate (UK): 18
Director: David Slade
Producer: Rosanne Korenberg
This is a dark tale about a a young, 14 year old, girl who at first, appears to be being groomed by an older man (Jeff) in his 30's via internet chat rooms. They quickly decide to meet up, and soon end up at his house. He has pictures of teenage girls on his walls, but claims he is a photographer and those are his models. It appears that Hayley (Ellen Page, Juno) is falling for all his charms and is becoming too comfortable with someone whom she met over the internet.
However, things are not all they seem when Hayley drugs Jeff and we realize that she is out to harm him as she suspects he is a paedophile.
The introduction of th movie is slow moving, but things quickly pick up. It becomes both entertaining and fast moving. It makes the viewer sympathise with the Jeff and makes us start to think that Hayley has got the wrong man, as he appears both kind and innocent. This clever bit of story writing and directing makes the film what it is and makes it well worth watching.
The end of the film, is moving and makes the viewer think. It is definately a very deep and dark story, that should only be watched by 18+.
One name. Ellen Page.
She is an amazing actress, and she was so young in this film. I remember when i first watched this film, thinking it was going to be another perverted photgrapher and a young naive girl was going to be misled. But no, i was amazingly surprised when i found out that he was actually the naive one! I think i actually gasped when i found out. The start is almost like what you see on the news really, a famous thirty something year old photographer grooming a young girl, telling her all these things then meeting her. And then when you get about halfway through the film, you think, is this girl crazy? or is she just angry...
I came to the conclusion that she was both haha. Although there was only one bad scene in there, i don't really think that it should be rated an 18 and be named 'Absolutely Terrifying'. I'd probably rate it a 15 and say it's a bit jumpy. The ending in my opinon is amazing, i'm not really a person to watch a long slow film and take everything in, and then actually like the ending, but this film just captured me. Without giving anything away, the ending was very much as i expected it would be, but i still was shocked for some reason, especially by her intelligence. I would rate this film 5 stars, it's definatly a must see!
I watched this when it was on television recently because the blurb, which was only small & described it as being quite thrilling, tempted me. I must admit, it wasn't what I had expected but it was worth watching.
Hard Candy was released in 2007, directed by David Slade, and is rated certificate 18 for scenes of violence, language and psychological torture. I'm glad to say the violence, which is more torture, isn't just gore or random for no reason, it all fits together for the right reasons.
The film begins with a internet conversation between two faceless characters who agree to meet up in a coffee shop. As expected, a young girl meets with a much older man, at which point I had already made my own assumptions about the direction of the film. I was wrong.
Haley, played wonderfully by Ellen Page, meets up with Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) after several internet chats. Jeff, a 32 year old photographer, looks like your average 30 something man; quite attractive and not a stereotypical paedophile, which is what Haley believes him to be.
Please stop reading here and skip to the bottom if you don't want to know the actual storyline. This information is on the back of the DVD I believe, but I didn't know this prior to watching it on TV, so the surprise was good.
Haley meets Jeff as an innocent, naïve 14 year old girl. It's only a matter of a cup of coffee before she heads off to his apartment, playing the young girl who doesn't know better than to talk to strangers. This quickly changes as we learn Haley isn't as naïve as she pretends when she turns the situation around to put her in control of Jeff's life.
Adamant Jeff is a Paedophile, sieving the internet for 14 year old girls, Haley makes herself the voice those underage girls as she exacts her revenge. Throughout the 100 minutes, we see Jeff try to explain his actions, claiming he photographs models and only talks to young girls for their company, to watch them and nothing more.
But Haley doesn't believe this, and feels it only right to take away the thing, or should I say two things (if you get my meaning!) that make him a man. Quite a bizarre but expert set up this is as the young girl plays doctor to a terrified Jeff.
The psychological torture is far worse than the physical destruction inflicted on Jeff, and the atmosphere is very well built up, keeping us questioning what will happen next.
I found myself questioning Jeff several times; is he really a paedophile? He doesn't seem like it, but he does admit to meeting young girls. Is he as evil as Haley believes? Is he hiding more than he will admit to?
The film ends quite dramatically, and a mix of emotions are stirred by the time it has finished. This is surely the sign of a good film, where you're gripped to see what happens next, shocked & surprised by happens, and feel yourself drawn into the situation and empathising with the characters.
The acting is excellent, and I'm sure that those who have watched this will say the young Ellen Page is equally as good at playing the intelligent revenge-seeker as Wilson is at playing the petrified accused paedophile.
These are the two main characters, and the film is very strongly focussed on them. So much so, that the camera rarely leaves Jeff's apartment, heightening the claustrophobic atmoshphere. There is one small role that comes in, an actress I recognised from Grey's Anatomy (Sandra Oh, who plays Christina Yang). Other than that, we're totally thrown into the lives of the two central characters over the course of only a few hours.
The only thing I found slightly annoying was Haley as a character, who I thought was perhaps slightly unbelievable. That said, she was still a great character and very well played, so you don't consider a 14 year old taking control of the life of a 32 year old man strange or unbelievable whilst you're watching.
Overall, I would recommend this if you want something edgy to get under your skin. It's not what I had expected, but it was excellently directed & acted, and I was totally absorbed in it whilst watching.
Sold on Amazon for £4.98
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Hardy Candy revolves around 14-year old Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) and 32-year old photographer Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson), who meet online and decide to meet up for real. She goes round his house, and make a drink, but puts a tranquiliser in Jeff's drink, causing him to pass out and wake up bound in a chair, with Hayley ready to torture him, believing him to be a paedophile. She then threatens to castrate him while he vehemently claims that he is not, in fact, a sex offender, despite there being some considerable evidence to the contrary. The crux of the film lies in whether or not she has simply become another product of how hyperactive the media are in the wake of the moral panic surrounding sex offenders, but sadly it is strangely mishandled with a mildly disappointing climax that is admittedly still quite visceral, brutal, and shocking. Somehow, despite being in her twenties at this time, Ellen Page manages to be convincing as a young girl who is fairly precocious while also looking quite innocent. Wilson is also solid as the maybe-maybe-not sex offender who is utterly petrified at what is going to happen to him.
Hardy Candy takes on a contentious social issue with the subtlety of a lump hammer yet it is still absolutely engrossing, largely due to a spirited performance from Ellen Page, and a solid one from Patrick Wilson. It's cringe-worthy viewing at times, and the final seconds of the film are the most harrowing all year, but there was the hope that it would go against a witch-hunt modus and actually make a comment about the horrendous mob mentality of the moral panic surrounding sex predators.
Hard Candy is an independent film directed by David Slade, put onto Lionsgate pictures to give it a wider audience, it's a film about paedophilia simply put, a 14 year old girl takes it on herself to expose a 32 year old man for what she believes him to be, a paedophile, she meets him over the internet, agrees to meet at a cafe and then proceeds to invite herself over to his house to hang out, whilst there she decides to drug the man and tie him up, then proceeds to ask him about the pictures of girls around his house, and the case of Donna, a missing/murdered tenage girl.
The film hits a taboo with the plot line, not many films, especially in this day, would risk writing and dircting a film all about the thoughts of paedophilia, it's an independtent film that is very very well shot and directed with a cast of only 4, only 2 of which are shown for over a minute or so, the other 2 are very brief appearances that add nothing or little to the story. The acting I though was brilliant by both Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson, both were highly convincing, neither looked average, both were superb and impressed me muchly.
The film is classed as a crime/thriller, I'd certainly say it's a thriller (Lionsgate don't really do much else), there's not a huge deal of crime, it's a very well done film, only 2 people are on screen for an hour and a half, in one location for 90% of the film, it never gets boring and rather than get dull it keeps on giving, tension, suspense, cringing and shock. The relationship between the 2 seem real and terrifying, although the thought that a 14 year old girl could over power and outsmart a 32 year old man is another question that people may question, maybe rightly...
One thing I did like about this film, although it sounds odd and wrong is how much sympathy is bought on for Jeff, although people should perhaps be siding with the girl who takes it on herself to bring down the man, I certainly found very little in her to like, she seemed a vindictive little...with hardly any evidence if any at all, she tricked the man, who was obviously lonely and photographing teenagers was his job, I don't think this film should be seen as sympathysing for paedophiles, the man is never accused by anyone other than the girl and I find it hard to believe he is one throughout the film, so perhaps oddly I sided with him throughout.
Overall, a very gritty and intense film, the characters are brilliant, the acting more so, I thought the story was shocking and different to anything that would be filmed these days, the diaglogue was intriguing and some, at least one of the scenes anyway was horrofic. It's not exactly a scary film like some people say, I thought it was very interesting, I never got bored throughout and it was highly intense throughout and for those reasons it's definatly a must watch.
Paedophiles are a risky subject. There's an obvious sentence if ever I wrote one. The Woodsman proved you could handle the subject and produce an uncomfortable, but captivating piece of film, with Kevin Bacon turning in an outstanding performance as a man whose internal struggle is enough to trigger sympathy, despite his actions. Hard Candy manages to trigger sympathy too, only the struggle isn't so much internal, more 'oh Christ why is there an ice pack on my balls?!??!'
There are plenty of "torture" films out there, pandering to gore-hungry fans. But this is a film that, yes, had some good ol' torture, but also had fleshed out characters and issues you could really sink your teeth into. Jeff (Patrick Wilson) is a creepy bastard, with very little going for him. Hayley (Ellen Page) is a feisty fourteen-year-old with witty banter and a hardened moral streak. So how, at some parts, can you find yourself rooting for Jeff? Who is the hero in this piece? The terrified paedophile or the psychotic girl with a scalpel? Of course Jeff is a bad man. You know that. He deserves what's coming to him. But then you suddenly realise you're willing him to grab that phone and make an escape. What's going on?!
Probably the film's strength comes with its leads. Patrick Wilson's sheer terror, alarm, frustration, pain - it's all etched out on his face so vividly you wonder if it's really just props they're using down there. And Ellen Page has just the right levels of confidence without any smugness attached. As she later proved in Juno, she's certainly one to watch.
Anyway, as to the torture, this is what should be shown to all film school students as a guide of how to elicit moans from audience members without showing anything being done to, erm, 'members' on screen. There is very little in the way of gore. It's all suggestion, and it's plainly enough. Jeff's face, her gentle assurances ("this might pull a bit") and an occasional noise. It's uncomfortable viewing, but fantastically well done.
Of course there're some flaws. A few plot holes, maybe the ending was a bit flat, maybe some of it was a little bit silly. But this is a bold effort from relative new-comers to film (David Slade as director, and Brian Nelson as writer).
After flirting back and forth online for three weeks, 32 year old Jeff (Patrick Wilson) decides to knowingly meet up with naïve 14 year old Hayley (Ellen Page), the two meet in a café and although Hayley acts like she's older than her years it's clear from her boyish haircut, flat chest and the innocent things she says that she's no woman. Jeff buys her a coffee and a t-shirt and after Hayley mentions how much she loves Goldfrapp Jeff informs her that he was at their latest concert and recorded it, Hayley hints at going back to his house to watch it and Jeff happily obliges.
Once back at his house, Jeff willingly gives Hayley alcohol, lets her look through his pictures as he's a professional photographer and he even agrees to shoot her with her top off. However when taking the pictures Jeff starts to feel faint and eventually collapses. Is it the sexual predator or the naïve child that we should be worried for?
Hard Candy was described as the most controversial thriller of 2006 for dealing with subjects that most other movies wouldn't dream of even passing by let alone creating an entire movie based around it.
The subject of paedophilia surrounds the entire movie and is the motive for what happens throughout the film, fortunately the film doesn't go into details like I was half expecting it to, when Hayley finds pictures in Jeff's safe all you see is the look at Hayley's face, this works on many levels because you never know exactly what the pictures are of, they could be of anything but of course you could assume that they're child pornography therefore the director leaves it up to the viewer to make their mind up about Jeff. You never see Jeff touch Hayley either which is a good thing because it would have likely created a national outcry if the film depicted a 14 year old girl being molested by someone 18 years her senior. For a movie with a premise that is surrounded by paedophilia it is done very tastefully, you never see anything distasteful centring around the extremely touchy subject and I think the director deserves felicitations for doing such a good job with this aspect.
Nearly everything apart from the paedophilia subject is very brutal and I wouldn't recommend this film to someone of a weak disposition because there are some parts that are extremely disturbing. There's one scene in particular that sticks out in my memory even after seeing it for the first time a couple of years ago it was the scene I remembered most vividly, if you've seen this film you'll know exactly what I'm talking about, it had my boyfriend wincing that's all I'm saying! Having said that, most of the film is psychologically brutal in favour of physical brutality, there's talk of a young girls murder in the film which is pinned on Jeff.
What annoyed me about this film is that there is no real evidence on Jeff to prove that he is a paedophile or even a murderer, granted he met a girl online but as aforementioned, we never see him touch her. I'm no barrister but meeting a girl online wont stand up in court to prove someone's a paedophile. It was a nice touch how the director gave us snippets of information enough for us to make our own judgement of whether Jeff was guilty or not but by the end I was expecting to find out for sure but you never do, there are things that hint that he is but on the other hand there are certain aspects that hint at him being completely innocent, you never know which is disappointing.
The fact that you never fully know whether Jeff is a paedophile or not makes it hard for you to connect with either character, you don't know whether to feel sorry for Jeff as a result of a tragic case of mistaken identity or think that he's getting exactly what he deserves. The same goes for Hayley, you don't know whether to back her up or condemn her for what she's doing to what could be an innocent man.
Having said that, the acting is fantastic from both parties involved, this is basically a two man show with only Jeff and Hayley taking centre stage. Patrick Wilson is great, I'm sure that it's not a role a lot of men would like to take on so he deserves credit for even taking on the role. Another thing that I liked about his performance, or maybe just him in general is the fact that his character of a suspected paedophile isn't stereotyped. The director didn't cast a fat, balding, chain-smoking, alcoholic, penniless man, instead they thought outside the box and cast a good looking, clever and wealthy man. Patrick Wilson plays his part convincingly and really pulls off the despaired look, he also doesn't come across too innocent on the other hand he doesn't come across as evil which is something that goes in his favour because it proves that you can never judge a book by it's cover.
Ellen Page is definitely the star of the film though and far outshines her co-star, this was her breakout role before she starred in the magnificent Juno in 2007 and she did an excellent job in Hard Candy, she remains compelling and frightening throughout the film and for me, without her the film wouldn't have been half as captivating as it was. It's amazing how her character instantly transforms and the way she depicts a 14 year old to be an unhinged psychopath is brilliant and extremely disturbing.
This is one of those films that showcases the age old idea that people shouldn't judge things on face value, if you look at this film at face value you'll assume that this poor child is in danger from the deviant sexual predator, this is where the twists are so effective however were ruined by the trailers. If the trailers hadn't have shown the twist of this film then I wouldn't have mentioned it in this but as the cat's already out of the bag there's no harm in mentioning it. This isn't the only twist in the film though, which is something that I wont spoil, I like the way the film manages to deceive people right from the offset and I was very impressed with how it leads the audience into thinking a certain way only to snatch that thought out of their head in an instant. It would have been a lot more shocking if people hadn't have known about the twist beforehand however if the twist wasn't revealed then this film would simply revolve around a paedophile with an influential young girl in his home, something that certainly wouldn't appeal to me and I'm sure a lot of other people would feel the same. The film plays around with people's sense of reality and really makes you question your own morals.
The camera movements were something I was very impressed with, it's not something that you should watch if you've got a headache though because it uses a handheld camera in places however the director knows where to draw the line and only uses it at certain moments where it becomes very effective and makes the house feel very claustrophobic.
The film remains compelling and captivating whilst being provocative and highly controversial, this is a film that is handled tastefully with a brilliant story, excellent twists, deceptive characters but unfortunately a disappointing ending. We don't find out the truth and I do feel that the film goes on a bit too long, at 103 minutes it's hardly of Titanic proportions however after around 80 minutes I'd seen an ample amount and think it should have ended at least 15 minutes earlier, however this is still a fantastic film and I think that you should give it a watch, don't let scepticism or the precarious subject matter put you off.
The DVD is available from play.com for £4.99, something which I highly recommend.
The special features include:
Audio commentary from director David Slade and writer Brian Nelson
Audio commentary from director David Slade and actress Ellen Page
Deleted and selected scenes
'Controversial Confection' featurette
'Creating Hard Candy' documentary
I don't know what lured me to this film but I'm glad I've seen it. Not quite my cup of tea but I didn't notice the time passing by as I watched it enthralled.
Hayley Stark is in an online chatroom. She chats to a guy, she arranges to meet him. She does. A pretty, innoccent looking, quaint-featured and cute Lolita-esque nympth. She meets a man, a photographer called Jeff and through a lilting conversation, they decide to go back to his place where he lives alone surrounded by photo's of models in a plush, modern, desolate pad. Pretty, innoccent looking, quaint-featured and cute Lolita-esque nympth? "Cute, vindictive little bitch...did society make me that way? I go back and forth on that...". We're talking psychological thriller where the tables are turned in ways that will make you wince and squirm, yet left with a strange sense of justice...!
A quality to this film that led to its intensity is that the experience centres completely on these two individuals; Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) - a mature 14 year old, and Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) a 30 something fairly attractive male photographer with a terrible secret. There are also brief appearances from a neighbour Judy Tokuda (Sandra Oh) and his ex lover with whom he is completely infatuated Janelle Rogers (Odessa Rae).
--The Good, The Bad, The Review---
I found this to be a fairly intense film in a number of ways, and I found it hard to predict which is a great quality. There is practically no other sound, so you feel the tension between the two which peaks and stays there from the beginning! I tried to guess a number of time what could be the possible difference. She is a very mature 14 year old, completely fearless but then when situations get out of hand she seems so vulnerable. Her maturity makes her seem older making me question whether in reality she is an older woman with a young physique trapping paedophiles. This film throws up a lot of questions and I couldn't of guessed how it would unfold. Be ready to squirm, be ready to be entranced till the end!
This is one of the best films I have seen in recent times, I would descreibe it as a suspense thriller and it has a number of great plot twists that really drags the viewers nerves through the blender and it is a film I highly recommend.
I read one film critic complaining about it being feminest propoganda but for me that just highlights that indiiduals own insecurities, maybe he feels threatened in his national newspaper job or somthing or maybe the subject material was too close to home, who knows.
The film stars Ellen Page as a young girl Hayley who builds up a friendship through the internet known as Jeff, played by Patrick Wilson, he is a fashion photographer and manages to lure her back to his place to take some nude pictures however the first twist of the flm is soon upon the viewer as he realises that it is his drink that has been spiked and now he is the oen under threat.
This is a powerful and sometimes shocking film that had me on the edge of my seat all the way through, I went in to watch it with no real knowledge of the storyline so the first twist was a real shocker when it came along. Both Wilson and Page are excellent in their roles and totally convincing which is a good thing as the films success rests entirely on their shoulders. There are no special effects or action scenes to speak of just some intense dialogue and air of menace throughout the films length.
A top piece of film making and well worth watching.
The internet can be a worrying thing for all parents when it comes to their children and what they are doing on there. It's forever on the news about young boys and girls talking to strangers on the internet and reminding them of who they can and cannot trust. Maybe though your child could surprise you if you ever sat and watched them on the internet, or maybe they have more brains and sense than what you realise.
This film shows what could happen with a child on the internet, but with a bit of a twist.
Teenage girl Hayley (Ellen Page) was talking to a stranger on the internet. She had been talking to her internet friend Jeff (Patrick Wilson) for a few weeks and was aware that he was a 32 year old fashion photographer. The naive young girl arranges to meet Jeff in a local coffee shop, where they chat and get to know each other a little. Before you know it Hayley is back at Jeff's place admiring his photos on the wall of young girls looking so beautiful. This is what Hayley wants, she 'oohhs' and 'aahhs' at all these pictures and Jeff persuades her to do a shoot herself. He is in for a treat, as after a few drinks between them, Hayley is going to strip and pose for his camera and eyes only.
Hayley is not as naive and stupid as we first think though and she believes Jeff has committed other crimes in the past (paedophilia). It becomes obvious now, as Jeff suddenly becomes a dazed mess after a spiked drink, that her plans were not to strip and pose and be the little, innocent girl he was expecting her to be. So what exactly is her plan? Is it revenge on this pervert who made her believe that he was truly genuine, or will she just leave him be and go home to her parents and know she is not to talk to a stranger on the net again..
You will have to watch the rest to see just how intense, emotional and powerful this film actually is.
Patrick Wilson does a brilliant job playing a suspected paedophile, I can't imagine that being an easy role to play but he is believeable and just as you'd imagine one to be like with a 14year old teenager. Full of charm, character, sympathy, he really does play it well.
Ellen Page also fits into her role fantastically to, her acting is brilliant and you can really see that she is meant to be a shy, timid 14year old girl but with a lot more brains to her than she initially lets on to Jeff. Because of her I felt I was left in suspense and even frightened in some parts of the film. Paedophilia must have been an extremely difficult subject for the film to cover but not once did I feel uncomfortable because of this. Peoples feelings towards it are most definitely portrayed powerfully throughout the film, it was intense in places and disturbing to think this could actually be happening somewhere for real, afterall alot of young teens go on the internet these days. Whos to know who they are actually talking to.
There is no fakeness to the film, and it almost feels like you are actually watching this happen in real life, as if being a fly on the wall. There are no special effects, or loads of characters but Ellen and Patrick really do a brilliant job just them two.
I was expecting to be bored, but I was gripped from the beginning to the end which I liked as I do have a really short attention span unless I'm just watching chick flicks.
Be Warned There is one extremely tear jerking moment for you within the film!
I reccomend this film to anybody looking to watch something out of the 'norm', it's not action or comedy, chick flick or horror. Instead it's something you really wouldn't expect in a film. I found it all to be extremely believeable, emotional and with alot of feeling gone into it. I really enjoyed it despite it not being my kind of thing really and it probably won't be everyone's cup of tea either.
Director : David Slade
Released: June 2006
What a disturbing movie this was...
First of all, it's about a 14 year old girl who meets a 32 year old man on the internet. As chat relationships go, a meeting is set up, but from then on nothing is as simple or innocent as it appears.
The characters are extraordinary, the acting excellent. Ellen Page plays 14 year old Haley, who, for all intents and purposes, plays to perfection the sweet, innocent and naive teen. She is carefree, and seemingly unconscious of the fact that she is playing with fire... like most teens. Page is truly a wonder, capable of stringing her audience along simply by being so believable as the naive Haley. A credit to the actress is the fact that, just as we begin to believe that she is so sweet and carefree, she pulls us deeper into this quagmire of a movie, and we discover that all is not as it seems... and we are taken off guard. Haley is not an easy character, nothing is as straightforward as it appears at the beginning of the movie. Getting to know the real Haley is not an easy thing to do (her motivations and true character are a heavily guarded secret)... and as the movie winds its way towards its inevitable end, I discovered, much to my horror, that I was no longer cheering for her...
Patrick Wilson plays Jeff exceedingly well, so well, in fact, that at times we tend to forget that he's a 32 year old man, and that he has no business chatting up young 14 year old girls and inviting them out. The reason we do tend to forget, is because the character of Jeff is just so darned awkward and shy... not what you would expect from a character you suspect might be a pedophile, while as Haley, on the other hand, is extremely flirtatious and forthright (a precocious teen too smart for her own good), and SHE is the one who suggests they should go back to his place. Although Jeff does agree to this, because he is not the one who actually made the suggestion to begin with, again we tend to forget that HE is the adult and should know better. The truth is, although Jeff has flirted shamefully with her during their online chats, when they do finally meet, he appears to go into a sort of big brother mode... man of the world... often referring to her age in a manner that leads us to believe that he is well aware that he is too old for her, and will, therefore, keep to his own place. It may seem kind of crazy (my own thoughts on this), but because Jeff does reference Haley's age often, and because his attitude and behaviour are of a non-sexual nature, we tend to forget the basics of what is and isn't acceptable... and the mere fact that Jeff would dare chat up a 14 year old girl, a child, (she never lied about her age to him), IS unacceptable.
Throughout the movie, it is Haley who seems to be making all the first moves, such as when she seductively suggests that Jeff take pictures of her... there is something just so disturbing about a 14 year old throwing her sensuality (something she should not even possess yet) around the place. At this point, with Haley posing for Jeff in a manner that is raw with sensuality, and, incredible as it may seem, innocence... the tables begin to turn and you glimpse a Jeff that is not as shy and awkward as he wants us to believe.
This is a movie of many twists and turns, sometimes claustrophobic, sometimes downright disturbing, but always well acted... as a psychological thriller should be, it is tightly wound, and the acting is downright tense and explosive. Although there are numerous light and colourful moments in this movie, there is always that dark haze lurking just beneath the surface. You know it's there, you sense, as the movies progresses, that you are going to be shocked, even amazed... and still you shamefully forget to brace yourself for it.
When Haley slips Jeff a drug and he passes out, that is the exact moment when everything changes. Haley is not as she appeared, she is a woman in a child's body, an extremely disturbed and cold-hearted teen who has been stringing Jeff along all the time... you discover that she's the one who had been planning and plotting all along, and the moment for retribution against her captive pedophile has come at last.
What is singularly unnerving about this movie, is the manner in which Haley tortures Jeff, the mind games she plays are incredible... and at this point we (the audience) don't know what to make of it all. Jeff's guilt remains a nebulous thing, and this uncertainty is extremely frustrating for the viewer.
There is a frenzied reversal of roles on a few occasions, the best and worst of each character surfacing at regular intervals, but it is never enough to make either one of them sympathetic. This is truly one movie where no one character is the hero... and no one character is sympathetic or even mildly likeable.
A disturbing movie... certainly. Entertaining... definitely.
A mature 14-year old girl meets a charming 32-year old photographer on the Internet. Suspecting that he is a pedophile, she goes to his home in an attempt to expose him.