Pros-The performances of Page and Wilson
-The engaging story
-The moral ambiguity
-The good direction despite a small-scale set
Cons-You may not like this movie if you are sensible to violence and the subject matter
Full ReviewHard Candy is a fascinating movie featuring Ellen Page before Juno and Patrick Wilson before Watchmen. Page plays a 14-year-old named Hayley Stark who who met photographer Geoff Kohlver on the Internet and one day they agree to meet face-to-face at a small coffee shop. You can see from the way Wilson's character is behaving that Hayley should stay away from this guy and definitely not agree to go to his house. Once at his house, drinks Geoff gives Hayley a drink but, surprise, it is Geoff who passes out because Hayley spiked HIS drink.
From this point on Hard Candy turns into a very smart, thought-provoking psychological thriller that can divide viewers. As it turns Hayley is a lot less innocent than she seems and has learned some dangerous things from the Internet. The really bad news for Geoff is that she is convinced that he is responsible for the disappearance of a girl living in the area. As she explores the apartment, which becomes the stage for the rest of the movie, things do not look good for Geoff's defence.
The question is not really if Geoff is guilty or not, but who gave Hayley the right to be judge and jury. The way she speaks and behaves clearly show an intelligent person who knows the difference between right and wrong, hence she must know that even her actions have consequences.
One of the best qualities of this movie is its ability to get the viewer involved despite the small scale. This could be a play: there are only two main sets, the coffee shop and Geoff's house. Aside from a few extras and Sandra Oh playing a concerned neighbour, this is essentially a battle of wills between Page and Wilson, who are both superb. Those who only see Ellen Page as cute woman who plays spunky characters like Juno should see this movie and marvel at the range that she has as an actress.
This was the first movie for director David Slade who later went on to direct the thriller 30 Days of Night and (unfortunately) The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Clearly this is a director who enjoys darkness. Hard Candy is set in a sunny city, but the events that occur inside that house are very dark indeed.
In ClosingNo matter where you stand, you will want to see this movie until the very end.