Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr Viber
Trending On Empire
The Big 2015 Movie Preview
The 50 Best Films Of 2014
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe To Empire!
Save up to 70%
Film Studies 101
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

Click poster to enlarge
More posters to select

Patrick Wilson
Ellen Page
Sandra Oh
Jennifer Holmes
Gilbert John.
David Slade.
Brian Nelson.
Running Time
104 minutes

A Fuller Life
3 Star Empire Rating
Futuro Beach
4 Star Empire Rating
Tokyo Tribe
2 Star Empire Rating
2 Star Empire Rating
4 Star Empire Rating

Still Alice
5 Star Empire Rating
Les Miserables
5 Star Empire Rating
Duke Of Burgundy, The
5 Star Empire Rating
5 Star Empire Rating
Long Good Friday, The
5 Star Empire Rating

Hard Candy
A cat and mouse game that's more hardboiled than soft centre.

submit to reddit

A 32-year-old man takes home a 14-year-old girl he's on the Internet, with surprising results.

Hard Candy
Browse more images »

With the media frequently trumpeting the dangers of allowing your little ones to talk to strangers in online chatrooms, to say nothing of several well-documented cases of teenagers eloping with their much older internet friends in recent years, it was only a matter of time before someone made a film on the subject. Thus we have Hard Candy, a taut, tense two-hander which not only tackles this thorny subject matter with consummate skill, but also happens to be a powerful, thought-provoking thriller.
In fact, it’s all the more impressive given the fact that it’s down to Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page to carry the bulk of the film, with the focus on the central duo and the claustrophobic setting inviting obvious comparisons to Audition and Death And The Maiden. Wilson — last seen as the rather wimpy Raoul in The Phantom Of The Opera — comes into his own here, but it’s Page who’s the real revelation, switching effortlessly between naive child and creepy, vengeful Lolita.
However, it’s what you don’t see in Hard Candy that makes it so effective. The film’s central scene — involving a spot of amateur surgery — may have certain audience members crossing their legs, but is all the more wince-inducing for the fact that you see virtually none of it happening, with the focus instead on the nigh-hysterical reaction of our protagonists. And although Hayley is convinced that Jeff does more with his young fashion models than simply take their picture, we have only her word that he’s the twisted paedophile she claims he is — since no truly concrete evidence of his apparently dodgy behaviour is ever shown on screen.
Hard Candy works superbly as a character-driven piece, rather than one which has to resort to graphic violence
and standard-issue thriller clichés to get its point across. What’s more, the did-he-or-didn’t-he? element is bound to divide audiences — Jeff comes across as a likeable guy, one who dispels the stereotypical image of the internet paedophile as sleazy and/or socially awkward — and it’s all too easy to end up feeling sorry for him in spite of his alleged crimes. Like many movies which focus on just a few characters and a handful of settings, this would make a great stageplay — but as a cinematic experience, it delivers the goods.

A cracking little thriller which makes you think even as it’s keeping you on the edge of your seat. It’s not always easy viewing, but Hard Candy is an intelligent, challenging film which deserves to be seen.

Reviewed by Caroline Westbrook

Write Your Review
To write your review please login or register.

Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hard Candy
Empire Star Rating

The reviewer states that the character played by Wilson could elicit our sympathy and that evidence of his intentions towards minors is not shown onscreen. I disagree, the very fact that someone would meet a minor, take he/she back to their house and invite them to drink alcohol is dodgy in the extreme. My sympathy was not elicited but I also did not revel in the treatment he suffered. Both characters are horrible individuals. Are we supposed to cheer that Page seemingly gets away with her actio... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rosskies at 16:20, 24 April 2014 | Report This Post

Hard candy review

Hard candy is a thriller staring Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson. Hard candy follows the story of a young 14 year old girl (Page) who gets to know this elder man (Wilson) over the internet. They decide to meet up and eventually go back to the mans apartment where things take a dramatic unpredictable turn. Before I watched the film I had no idea what it was about, I hadn't even seen the trailer, or read any other reviews.This was just as well, as by the end this film had me on the edge of my sea... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Beastwoop11 at 15:46, 03 March 2012 | Report This Post


Some daft comments here. It was a fantastic thriller. Ellen Page is a stunning actress. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by badsanta at 08:06, 09 April 2011 | Report This Post

Hard candy

It's one of those films that stick with you even though it perhaps isn't the most exciting or visceral pictures. Both actors are extremly good and really i cannot fault the film properly. Seeing nothing on the screen really does work and i was one of those people who had to look down when i needed a wee to see if it was actually still there. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Blue Ryan at 18:20, 27 January 2010 | Report This Post

dark, sick, twisted thriller with never ending intelluctual boundaries. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawshank prisoner at 18:36, 10 April 2008 | Report This Post

Shocking, unflinching, and oh-so-topical

a cracking movie. well worth Lewis Taylor (Empire account leweyt) not answering his own girlfriend. What a pillock ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by blaud at 13:57, 12 March 2008 | Report This Post

See it!

Got this out for $1 at our local video store and didn't think I'd enjoy it but F**K! What a movie! Pretty much what you expect and then some despite the uncomfortable subject matter. Do you sympathise with the guy (until the end!) or the young girl? F**ked up in places but all the better for it. Great performance from Ellen Page and well directed. Bluffs aplenty all the way through which only adds to the tension. Best dollar I've spent in ages.... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by The Yorkshire Rapper at 09:25, 07 December 2007 | Report This Post


I heard some stories about this film, mainly that it devided opinions. And now having seen it, I know why. I still do not know whether this was a bad film or a great one. And that thought alone makes it an interesting film at least. The problem is that I don't know what the writer (Brian Nelson) and director (David Slade) had in mind. -possible spoilers- The story is quite simple. It tells about a 14 year old girl who meets a 32 year old photographer on the net and after a few ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BobM70 at 14:39, 19 November 2007 | Report This Post


I didnt think it was all that good. Its was a very brave concept but, from all the hype that it was one of the most controvertial movies of the year,  I guess was expecting something more shocking and gritty. For one it was irritatingly twisty (Some films can pull it off. This one couldnt.) and Ellen Page, while meant to be a dislikable character, was immensely annoying into the bargain as well. Patrick Wilson did a good job but the movie still didnt let him have a goo... More

Posted by Hex at 15:25, 07 March 2007 | Report This Post


The acting and sets were superb and the photography was excellent althought I thought the shakey cam in action moments was out of place. The only thing I wasnt sure about was the ending, the film raises so many moral questiosn but answers none of them. I think I rememeber Slade mentioning in the 'making of' that the ending is left open for the viewsers desicion but I think its a bit of a cop out. However, the begginning with the chat room was brilliantly simple and set the tone for the film per... More

Posted by BigKovacs at 15:06, 07 March 2007 | Report This Post


I thought it was wasted potential and squandors a hugely promising premise in favour of wallowing in the audience's obligation to care about such things, making no real effort except to congratulate itself on it's intellectual stylings. Ellen Page is a promising actress but her character here is insufferable, this may be the failure of the writers but I think she should shoulder some of the responsibility. Course, whether this translates into a really bad performance is highly debateable, and s... More

Posted by Lydia_H at 07:35, 07 March 2007 | Report This Post


Excllent film on such a taboo subject. An outstanding performance by the young Ellen Page of X Men fame. Went in thinking it was going to be all out balls to the wall toture ala Hostel and the Saw movies but this turned out to be a smart physcological thriller loved the twist ending too. The supposive casturation is enough to make any male cringe but the real treat is the genuine disturbing nature of the movie without the use of gore which is a welcome pleasure, recommended viewing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spideyfan666 at 20:14, 06 March 2007 | Report This Post

Too theatrical and stretched out to be considered more than a promising film, Hard Candy's greatness is to be found in this young actress ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 18:22, 05 March 2007 | Report This Post

14 year olds don't talk like this

Very disappointing. You need to believe in characters, alas the 14 year old in this film has dialogue you'd never hear from one so young. Some of the lines sound more like they've come from a Barrister rather than a teenage girl. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Michael Dukes at 13:19, 30 November 2006 | Report This Post

Modern Filmmaking at it's best!

People who like to cling to the old graces of cinema (not that that is bad in any way) should watch this film. This is what modern film can do now. Imagine tackling this material in the 40s. Imagine how much punch the visuals will have without the new techniques we now use. This film throws you around like a toy. You're completely split yet completely sure. Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson are superb and the direction unnoticeable which is what good films have. The script is genius but like all sma... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by KieranB at 21:46, 15 November 2006 | Report This Post

... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bubba76 at 00:22, 09 November 2006 | Report This Post


The problem with this film is the reviews. The cinema goer will expect too much. First the positives. The acting is ok. The direction and setting is good. The first half an hour or so is seems to be building up to something interesting. Then We find out rather labouriously that our teenager is a bit Troubled and our adult has a boring secret. I was hoping that they would both commit Suicide by the time the credits came up. I think we have all seen 12 Certificate films that are more shocking. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nikkimariedavies at 18:30, 08 November 2006 | Report This Post


Forget the rest, this is the best film of the year (so far). A lesson in film making, susspense and horror and hust shows what can be done wihout the need for graphic violence (which I am all for). Disturbing, realistic, and above all else sadistic what else could you wish for loves it!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bittersweet at 14:54, 24 September 2006 | Report This Post


Forget the rest, this is the best film of the year (so far). A lesson in film making, susspense and horror and hust shows what can be done wihout the need for graphic violence (which I am all for). Disturbing, realistic, and above all else sadistic what else could you wish for loves it!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bittersweet at 14:54, 24 September 2006 | Report This Post


L: lord of the pies. I know what you mean but a paedo is only a menace to society when he is acting on his urges. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by carmen_reserved at 14:35, 06 September 2006 | Report This Post


L: lord of the pies. I know what you mean but a paedo is only a menace to society when he is acting on his urges. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by carmen_reserved at 14:34, 06 September 2006 | Report This Post

now turn to your left and cough!!!

I went to see this film knowing very little from the teaser trailers. I sat there and was quite suprised at how two people can hold such a film together - pure genius. I am still unsure as to if i am to feel sorry for the male character - is this a bad thing if i do?? Oh well it's only a film, its only a film.....until the "removal of balls" sceen - maybe it didnt help that the night before i had a heavy drinking session but i could feel the sweat down my back and the vomit begin to ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by popcorn23 at 12:47, 10 July 2006 | Report This Post

Hard Candy

There are few issues facing society today which provoke as much fear, anger and disgust as paedophilia. Nothing is more likely to strike horror into the hearts of parents, and a special kind of contempt is reserved for those who commit these terrible crimes. With such an emotive and delicate subject matter, it is imperative that cinema should tread carefully when venturing into this particular territory. Occasionally, filmmakers get it right, such as Todd Solondz's bleak and brilliant ssole Kas... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Philconcannon at 00:31, 02 July 2006 | Report This Post

Hold on to your balls.

If the hyperbolic damnation of Brass Eye’s Paedophile Special taught us anything, it is not that paedophiles can disguise themselves as schools, it’s that paedophilia is a touchy subject. British Director David Slade knows this, and has used the media preconceptions of paedophilia, as well as the moral hysteria it generates, and crafted one most fraught and claustrophobic thrillers in recent memory. Hand Candy (internet slang for under age female) was released in Britain amidst a ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by eatmycheeseplease at 19:50, 30 June 2006 | Report This Post

RE: Couple of Issues

L: carmen_reserved  Sure, fancying kids isnt nice, but he can hardly help it. sp; You should be a lawyer, you'll be able to get every paedophile off the hook with that defence. ... More

Posted by lord of the pies at 19:09, 30 June 2006 | Report This Post

More user comments

40 Of The Unlikeliest Movie Character Posters
Would you put these one-sheets on your wall?

Who Is The Vision, Anyway?
An introduction to Avengers: Age Of Ultron's newest addition

Jenny Agutter: Role by Role
From Tin to Captain America to The Railway Children

80 Of The Best Movie Star Adverts
From Sly Stallone selling bread to Hugh Jackman dancing for iced tea

Matthew Weiner Reveals 7 Mad Men Secrets
The showrunner on The Beatles and that lawnmower

Empire's Avengers: Age Of Ultron Review
Our verdict on what could be the biggest film of the year...

The 15 Most Controversial Alternate Endings
How some of your favourite films could have finished...

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Subscribe now and save up to 70%

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Subscribe now and save up to 70%
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire Digital Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  Digital Edition  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)