I happened upon this movie on TV at its end back in 2007, and was gripped and hanging off the edge of my seat. I was able to finally catch it from the beginning this week, and I am even more impressed with the tremendous acting, clever writing, and emotive cinematography.
Ellen Page’s performance is intense and far advanced for her years in her role as Hailey, while Patrick Wilson blows you away with his convincing portrayal of a sick and pathetic predator, as Jeff. There is a brief appearance by Sandra Oh, whom I find always a treat. Otherwise Hard Candy is all about the relationship between this fourteen year old nymph and her thirty-two year old pursuer.
Hard Candy is a very well written, psychological thriller wherein victims get a chance to live vicariously through an unlikely hero, Hailey. Typical perverts are represented by a perpetrator who spouts off the most common of excuses and manipulations to justify his behaviour. One of my favourite rebuttals that Hailey offers him after he tells her that he did no wrong, and that she was the one flirting with him: “Just because a girl knows how to imitate a woman does NOT mean that she’s ready to do what a woman does.” Catch the clip below to see this short scene, as well as an interview with Page and Wilson.
Expect to be deceived by your thoughts and feelings while you are watching this film, whether you’ve been a victim or not. The acting is so affective and the scenarios are so bizarre that you are left to ask yourself what you might do in that situation. You won’t have time to answer though, as the movie runs at a hare’s pace as it swiftly races to its finish.
The cinematography is riveting as the director uses lightning camera effects which increase the tension and suspense of the scenes. The colours and shades of the set are grey and muted, with the exception of black, white and blood red. Close-up shots are used to highlight the raw emotion and fabulously tempered acting.
This low-budget, indie film is not for everyone. There are some graphic and audacious scenes, but if you think you can handle its content, it shouldn’t be missed.
Here’s a brief interview with Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson.