14-year-old Hayley Stark has been chatting online with a 32-year-old fashion photographer named Jeff for a few weeks, and one day, Hayley suggests that they should meet for real. They meet up at a coffee shop and really seem to hit it off right away, even though the big age difference. While Hayley flirts, Jeff tries to restrain himself and their meeting ends up with Hayley inviting herself over to Jeff's house. Once at the house, things takes a different turn, and while Jeff might be a pedophile, the little girl isn't so innocent either.
Hard Candy is a movie that, if you're a man, will grab you by the balls and literally rip them off, at least that's how I felt after sitting through this dark drama thriller. And while the movie proved to be one pretty awesome film, that feeling it delivered sure was a lot trying to cope with. When I first sat down to watch the film, I can honstely say that I didn't really know anything about it, that's except for that it would deal with a pedophile and a young girl. Since pedophiles are something that is both repulsive and bad, you of course figure that Jeff, who's the pedophile, would do nasty stuff throughout the film while you would sit and feel sorry for the girl. But that would've been too easy and luckily it was the other way around. I really don't want to get into the whole subject of pedophiles but I can honestly say that I felt truly bad for this one, despite them being bad by nature and despite this just being a movie. Chances that it'll get to you are quite big I guess, it sure got to me, not that I really could relate to it but for the fact that it was a pretty strong movie.
It's kinda hard to review Hard Candy without delivering possible spoilers, so I'm just gonna try and keep it brief and not go into too much detail. And since there are a lot of dumb people out there, I just want to make it clear that I do not approve of pedophiles and what they're into, so don't send me any stupid emails if I happen to say that Jeff seems like a nice guy or something like that. With that being said, let's move on. The movie starts off with that you get to see a computer screeen where a chat session between Jeff and 14-year-old Hayley is going on, and since we're living in the computer age and all, I guess the concept will seem familiar to most people. The two decide to meet at a coffee shop called Nighthawks and so they do. Now, since you know that Jeff is a pedophile before you've even seen the guy, you kinda figure that you won't like him once you get to see him, but I must say that he looked and seemed all right (that's except for scheduling a meeting over the internet with a young girl). The girl on the other hand I didn't like one bit, and it just kept getting worse.
The way the character that was Hayley came off right from the start made me dislike her a lot right then and there. Kids should be kids right? Well, this girl seemed like an obnoxious adult trapped in a little girl's body. The way she talked about things, the dialogue itself, and how she acted all grown up and a bit artsy almost made me a bit sick right from the start. Jeff on the other hand seemed nice, but the fact remains, and that is that he met up with a little girl and that is just plain sick. Ok, so they're both jerks I guess, but they sure do a good job at it. Jeff has a lot of charm and seems like a really nice guy, but all that charm and the feeling of him being nice also makes him extremely creepy, but that is only because you know what he really is. Already at the coffee shop, Jeff starts manipulating Hayley, telling her that he has to wait 4 more years for him to be with her, and also says that she both looks and acts older than she really is. Playing around with a 14-year-old girl's emotions, that's not too nice, but later when the couple goes back to Jeff house, things sure takes a different turn and hell begin, but not for the person you first would've thought.
The acting is really good, especially from Jeff (Patrick Wilson) but at the same time Hayley (Ellen Page) does a great job too, it's just that I hated her throughout the flick and long after, but on the other hand, you have to be quite good to make a person feel that way, if you know what I'm saying. The fact is that during these 103 minutes that the movie lasts for, these two actors has a lot of weight to carry on their shoulders. Since it's just basically those two alone throughout the whole film, they have to make it work, and they sure do. The movie could've been a bit shorter I guess and while it's all ok in the end, some of the dialogue and scenes seemed just to serve as fillers. It's not a big thing though, and while I can't say that it was an easy film to sit through, it sure was one interesting film.
Hard Candy was a quite disturbing experience that will probably stay with you for a while after that it's over, I know it did that for me. If you're a guy you should be warned that there's especially one long scene that is absolutely terrible to watch, and while I didn't fast-forward through it, I sure was close to doing so. It'll make you cringe for sure. With that being said, Hard Candy is a good and tragic thriller with a lot of drama in it and is a film that is well worth watching. Don't dismiss it for the fact that you think pedophile shouldn't walk the earth or anything like that, because it's different, and different's always good.
Rating: 8 out of 10