My rating of Hard Candy: A (Outstanding)
Cast: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page
Directed by: David Slade
Studio: Lions Gate
Another day, yet another glowing review of a Lions Gate movie. OK, so these guys are taking things a bit too far with the Saw series. I mean, not gore-wise, but I think it’s high time to bury the series now; Saw VI was so tired that it doesn’t even shock or keep you on the edge of your seat any more. Listen Lions Gate, you don’t have to make more movies from the franchise. We love you folks anyway for greenlighting awesome movies, such as the one I’m going to talk about today.
I caught this 2006 movie playing on BBC Two tonight. It dates from Ellen Page’s pre-Juno fame era, when she was merely an extra in the X-Men series. Hard Candy is the story of a 14 year old girl who seeks out a paedophile (Geoff Holver, played by Patrick Wilson) online – who’s quite possibly involved with murders previously – and dishes out her own brand of justice to him. The USP, so to say, of the movie is that it almost purely focuses on dialogue, without ever descending to gore even in the so-dubbed ‘torture scenes’. (No seriously, there’s no torture involved. As Ellen Page’s character quips, “If this is torture, then you certainly haven’t heard of Amnesty International.)
Ellen Page’s performance as Hayley Stark is the highlight of this movie. As a viewer, you feel disgusted at the actions that the paedophile carried out, and you almost in a sense cheer on Hayley’s brand of vigilante justice. At times though you wonder whether she’s sane. (As she says, “4 out of 5 doctors agree that I’m insane”.) The transition from the start of the movie – where Hayley is coy and playful in an effort to draw the sexual predator out – to a tomboy-ish character displays the range or roles that Page can carry off with ease. Her lines are loaded with sarcasm and delivered in the same pithy way as she did in Juno.
(NB: I’d rate Juno an A+ Oscar-worthy, but it’s strictly a one-time watch for me. I realise the movie is awesome, but it’s frikkin’ boring. Except for that song towards the end which is kinda cool; the chemistry between Page and Cera really shows!)
I won’t go so far as to say that the movie has a social message, but it does show a murderer completely being broken down and made to realize the gravity of his crimes. Don’t miss this movie, especially if you liked Juno for Ellen Page’s performance.
On a somewhat related note, you might also want to watch this movie called The Quiet starring Elisha Curthbert, Camilla Belle, and Martin Donovan. Not a Lions Gate film this time; Sony Pictures Classics in case you’re wondering. It’s kinda an obscure movie – I couldn’t find trailers of it to link to except for this, ironically, shitty quality official trailer from Sony Pictures. It’s what many would call a movie which drags its feet along and goes nowhere, but my opinion is that given the sensitive subject matter – incest – it has been portrayed in a thought-provoking way, from the victim’s viewpoint. What’s worth watching is Camilla Belle’s performance as deaf-and-dumb teenager Dot and how we as a society tend to treat disabled people. (I was quite surprised that HBO broadcast this movie in India. I’d expect them to be scared shitless of retribution from censor watchdogs.)