In "Hard Candy," Wilson portrays a photographer in his 30s named Jeff who sets up a rendezvous with a teenage girl who he met on the internet. Before long, the youngster is back at photographer's home drinking and having a good time. But when Jeff awakes, he finds himself tied to a chair.
Two people chat on the Internet. When Hayley asks to meet Jeff, he is reluctant but eventually agrees. He finds the youngster too sexy for words and lets her talk him into taking her to his home.
A controversial film that understandably divided audiences when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, "Hard Candy" is difficult to lump into any one genre category and just as difficult to get out of the viewer's mind. At once a psychological thriller, a horror picture, a twisted wish-fulfillment fantasy and a grim morality tale, the film provocatively questions what might happen if a possible pedophile were to pick up an underage girl just as savvy and calculating as he. With very little physical onscreen violence, blood or sexual content, first-time director David Slade and screenwriter Brian Nelson have created an intense and disturbing experience that proves just how effective the power of suggestion can be.
Ellen Page first stomped into my heart with her controversial role, Hayley, in the movie Hard Candy. In the film she is a thirteen-year-old girl who manipulates a pedophile into taking her home, where she tortures him. With her intense performance and lack of fear she does something unprecedented in modern Hollywood. She gives us a psychological thriller with a truly astounding female character.
The last time a British film-maker attempted to invert the man-tortures-woman traditions of the slasher genre, his film was banned from video by the BBFC. Admittedly Ray Brady's Boy Meets Girl was no masterpiece, its scenes of freshly microwaved limbs more risible than radical. But the antagonism which it provoked in the chief censor suggested an antipathy to the subject matter rather than the content.
Director: David Slade. MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent and aberrant sexual content involving a teen, and for language. Screenwriter: Brian Nelson.
Knowing Hayley is only 14 years old and Jeff is 32 you feel gripped in the situation. Though nothing truly graphic is ever shown, it quickly jumps into action and Hard Candy does a good job of building and maintaining tension throughout the film. I was pleasantly surprised how things get going right from the beginning.
The noir genre is often associated with dog-tired older detectives and black and white films. These movies with teen protagonists are out to challenge that notion, while still paying tribute to classic noir tropes. The best teen noir movies feature murderous plots, arch narration, and dastardly deeds.