Directed by David Slade.
Written by Brian Nelson.
Starring Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, and Sandra Oh.
Release Year: 2005
Review Date: 5/4/06
It's hard to talk about the thriller "Hard
Candy" without giving away its story line, so here it is: A
30-something photographer named Jeff (Patrick Wilson) arranges by
instant messaging technology to meet for coffee with Hayley (Ellen
Page), who appears to be a 14-year-old innocent out looking to meet,
ahem, new people. After coffee, Jeff offers to show Hayley his
portfolio at his home...where Hayley and Jeff take their three-week
old online-only relationship to another level in person...especially
after we find out that Jeff may or may not have a past as a
"Hard Candy", rated R for some of the most
man-tense moments ever filmed, is gripping but strangely irritating.
It's gripping for reasons that become obvious only after you start
watching the movie, as well as the (initially) provocative
performance by Page. But, once we move past the 30-minute mark
and really get into the meat of what Jeff has really signed up for,
I was amazed at how angry I was watching Page perform her judge,
jury and executioner role because everything that the Jeff character
is guilty of is just hinted at, never backed up. This is true
all the way to the film's harrowing conclusion. Some of this
anger was due to the script by Brian Nelson, which has dialogue that
seems WAY too cute for a girl that is handling the kind of
activities that Hayley is dealing with in the film's main high
The performances by Wilson and Page are both
very strong, and for a movie that only has literally four speaking
parts (Sandra Oh, from
"Sideways", has a cameo near the film's conclusion), watching
Wilson and Page for 90% of the movie is never dull and has a nice
cat-and-mouse aesthetic to it; how will Jeff resolve his situation?
Who is this Hayley anyway? What the hell is up her ass?
When the two are going after each other, who will win? The
film is also very well photographed; I think that director David
Slade is a music video director, and the way he stages his scenes
made me feel right at home.
But my interest in the movie kept going back
to the Hayley character, and because of her decision-making and the
ridiculosity of her dialogue and situation (yes, I just made a word
up), "Hard Candy" fell back to earth for me. I still think you
should check this out just to squirm uncomfortably for 90 minutes
and get out of your comfort zone.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard