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Patrick Wilson
as Jeff Kohlver

Ellen Page
as Hayley Stark

Written by Brian Nelson

Directed by David Slade

Running Time: 1:43

Rated R
for disturbing violent and aberrant
sexual content involving a teen, and for language.



Hard Candy was a disturbing film on many levels, and not one for the faint of heart.


14-year-old Hayley meets 32-year-old Jeff on the internet and they quickly meet in person. Soon she decides to join him back at his place. But their encounter doesn't go as you might expect, and instead Hayley traps Jeff and tries to get him to admit he is a pedophile and had something to do with the murder of a young girl. She uses whatever tactic she has to, which leads to a intense and highly charged ending.


Hard Candy is a difficult movie to review. There are a couple of ways to look at it. You could see it as a guy who does horrible things getting what he deserves, or you could see it as a girl taking the law into her own hands, a.k.a. vigilante justice. If you look at it in the former, you almost root for Hayley to torture the living hell out of this guy. I mean, for what he is accused of (and eventually admits to) doing, he deserves punishment, and the things Hayley comes up with are certainly big things. On the other hand, if you look at it in the latter, you've got this girl who basically has decided this guy is guilty on her own, and even when he starts to admit to things, instead of handing him to the police and letting the law do its job, she takes the law into her own hands and becomes judge, jury and executioner.

From a performance standpoint, the movie is outstanding. For the most part, it's just the two actors, Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page working off each others intensity and it works wonders. They both get into their roles to the point you start to believe them. Page could easily pass for a 14-year-old (although I believe she is a few years older) and Wilson doesn't look like someone you would consider to be perverted, but that's probably a good thing. The movie escalates fairly quickly and their performances keep pace.

One thing I didn't understand was why Jeff felt the need to hide all the pictures he had. I mean, he lives alone, far away from most people. Why not keep the pics on his computer somewhere? And if he was going to hide them, why in such a strange place? It seemed a bit over the top other then to play into Hayley's hands and give her something more to do. Speaking of giving her something to do, the torture scenes are brutal to watch, especially if you're a guy. There's one extended scene that was so horrific I can imagine guys starting to feel sorry for Jeff, and probably a few women did too. It was that one scene that made me wonder if the film had gone too far in its revenge scenario.

I wish the movie had given us some more background on these two and how Hayley came to know what she did. Why did Jeff feel the need to do what he did? How did they meet? Obviously none of what happened could have been truly random, but in order for Hayley to go crazy on him, she must know a lot more than she let on. Who was she?


So overall, I thought Hard Candy was a wonderfully acted film but one that opened up a lot of questions and beliefs in yourself. Do you believe in vigilante justice at any cost? Or do you believe the law should rule? Since I didn't believe what she did was right, even if her intentions were honorable, I had a hard time enjoying the film for what it was.

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reviewed 10/21/06

© 2006 Wolfpack Productions

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