by Kris Kobayashi-Nelson, September 25, 2006|
Hard Candy is a modern-day Little Red Riding Hood. But you have to remember that Little Red Riding Hood didnt exactly depict a girl who was entirely innocent and chaste, but rather the final lure for those with the taste for evil. Its easy then to assume that the wolf in this case is 32-year-old photographer Jeff Kohlver (a William Hurt/Denis Leary/Jude Law-stubbly Patrick Wilson), whose favorite subject is jailbait. He proudly plasters barely post-pubescent portraits onto his posh post-modern walls. His home/work studio set-up serves as a convenient ploy to invite teens in. He didnt have to try so hard with 14-year-old Hayley Stark (Linda Cardellini and Cillian Murphy hybrid, Ellen Page) who eagerly invites herself over after an online flirting spree. But ay, theres the rub. Jeff quickly becomes the victim of mental and physical abuse as the hunter becomes the hunted. See, Hayley has been doing some homework of her own, and shes the honor student here.
We witness Hayleys transformation from coy, quippy and clueless, to tenacious torturous tart. She zips around his house as if it were hers, even investigating the roof at one point. She justifies her self-proclaimed insanity with well-rehearsed soliloquies. Maybe shes even done this before. Jeff is so shocked and stunned that he can barely retort. When he does, his feeble bluffs to trick Hayley with false alliance and reverse psychology falters. She is convinced that he has something to do with the disappearance of a local girl. He is convinced that she is delusional psycho. The only thing Jeff can rely on is his incredible will to survive and being so sweaty that he is able to slip out of Hayleys boyscout-esque binds.
Amongst all the high-tension near-misses and extreme close-ups, there are some truly pretty moments with light-dancing vertical blinds and a birds-eye shot of Jeffs secret hiding spot. Also, Jeffs immaculate interior design is so deliciously minimalist that it creates allowance for the color saturation and overall feel of each room. We have the danger red living room, the caution/yield yellow photo studio, the wispy pink bedroom replete with matching pink vintage cabinet and matching pink sheets. (Trivia Time: the directors actual house was the stage. Not sure if those were his pukey pink sheets though).
So who is the innocent and what is the final trick in Hard Candy? You might go back and forth on this one for a while. Because there is so much, or maybe so little evidence to support both parties, I thought it might be interesting to put dreamlogic.net's MOVIE REVIEW . Hard Candysuspension of disbelief on the backburner and analyze a few things CSI style. Hayley is as careful as she is cunning. She cleans up like Merry Maids but leaves some clues behind. She also leaves some crazy questions behind. How is a skinny little thang able to lift an unconscious (dead weight) body up and around? Can it be possible that shes such a perfectionist that she has even planned for Jeff to escape? Are their twixt similar and almost OCD personalities creating some sort of game rather than a mission? In one instance, Hayley violently rams her head against the wall after Jeff nearly overpowers her, and need I remind you that his bedsheets match the walls, for Christs sake. Could they both be innocent, both be guilty? Okay okay, back to the main question: is Hayley a heroic vigilante outwitting a molester/murderer or is she the real monster?
While youre figuring it out, youll most definitely be wowed by the wonderful web of canned dialogue utilized as expected speeches to leery ears as the two amazing able actors verbally spar. Have fun reading between the powerplay lines!