Thursday, November 16, 2006


Hard Candy is an overlooked thriller which skirts the line between a mainstream thriller and an exploitation film. It is slick and thoroughly gripping from a combination of rich dialogue and good acting (from future A-lister Patrick Wilson (see also Little Children) and up and coming Canadian young actress Ellen Page).

The film plays out the story of a young girl lured by an internet stalker via a chatroom. While this sounds like a melodramatic movie of the week, Hard Candy is nothing of the sort. To avoid heading into spoiler territory, I'll describe the experience of watching the film rather than details of the film itself. Music video director David Slade structures things first to lull the observative viewer along a familiar path (although this film does not seem to have many obvious precedents other than Roman Polanski's Death and the Maiden or perhaps the overlooked Kiefer Sutherland and Reese Witherspoon starring contemporary take on Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway).

This lead-on is done both narratively as well as empathically. Over the course of the drama, viewer loyalty shifts more than once. Suspension of disbelief may be required upon reflection. But during the film the claustrophobic cinematography and compelling interplay between the leads keep things very tightly wound. It is the winding of both expecations and tension that is the chief pleasure of the film. Even if in the end of the experience a moral clense may be required. Hard Candy poses to the question of what is more terrifying, being victimized by someone in the grips of a need which is objectionable to society, or being helpless to the actions of someone who is both righteous and naïve in equal measure.


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