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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
18
Cast
Patrick Wilson
Ellen Page
Sandra Oh
Jennifer Holmes
Gilbert John.
Directors
David Slade.
Screenwriters
Brian Nelson.
Running Time
104 minutes

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


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


Review
Hard Candy
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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.


Verdict
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

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hard Candy
Empire Star Rating

RE: Hard Candy

Perhaps it’s just a coincidence, or maybe I’m one of those self-loathing males.  But it just occurred to me this morning that of the films I’ve seen in 2006, Lady Vengeance and Hard Candy tower over everything else.  Perhaps the leads in these are a new type of character, about a billion miles away from the femme fatales of gangsters molls to the sibilant dick teasers of eighties “sex-thrillers”.  Even as revengers these movies differ significantly from the norm, amid the obvious... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by demoncleaner at 11:59, 30 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Couple of Issues

** No Spoilers as such just a mention of a part of the film**   I saw it today and really enjoyed it. There was a great suspense about the film, if you didnt know anything about it then it would come as a shock. The obvious "torture" scene did have a lot of the male cinemagoers crossing their legs, however it was done very cleverly. I would recommend! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Dready at 19:38, 29 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Couple of Issues

L: maffew yeah, man! paedos have a bad rep! i mean, they can't be ]bad, can they? ...freak p; Oh please, that's oversimplfying things a bit isn't it?  ... More

Posted by Gazdance at 17:32, 29 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

I agree with the hardest film to sit though ever line.  This is one of the most important movies of the last 5 maybe 10 years.  The leads totalling pull it off espically Ellen Page.  A also liked the way the focus changed in how it was shot though out the film.  It brings up many question's but never awser's them and that is part of the point. ... More

Posted by ElephantBoy at 12:43, 29 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Couple of Issues

yeah, man! paedos have a bad rep! i mean, they can't be ]bad, can they?     ...freak ... More

Posted by maffew at 11:00, 29 June 2006 | Report This Post


Couple of Issues

Generally decent film, but didnt anyone else find it a bit morally misguided? Sure, fancying kids isnt nice, but he can hardly help it. I thought it was a bit of a villainisation of paedophiles in general. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by carmen_reserved at 17:46, 27 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: lord of the pies L: Juvenilemike 2)She appeared as Kitty Pride in X3 What? No way?! es way! I saw X3 before this and was amazed by Ms Page. A brilliant film, the person i was rooting for kept changing all thru the film! Only spoiler was the people sat behind me talking thru most of it and some other laughing during "that" scene. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by indysgill at 00:39, 27 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Juvenilemike 2)She appeared as Kitty Pride in X3 sp; What? No way?! ... More

Posted by lord of the pies at 09:53, 26 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

Perhps a mite overrated by some but overall an interesting and original film. It's a little morally iffy due to the occasion sense of empathy with the male lead, especially considering later developments but that all plays to the core themes of the script. I'd have to agree ,the last 20 minutes was a bit much and the resolution of the killer or not? thread was perhaps a tad predictable. Overall though, thoroughly recommended. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mike TV at 14:33, 25 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Juvenilemike ~~~~~~~~Spoilers~~~~~~~~ Not sure which part you didn't understand so... 1) She didn't castrate him, just froze him and then put a bulldog clip on him to mess with him. 2)She appeared as Kitty Pride in X3 I missed the part that she didn't actually castrate him. In my defence though. the screen blacked out in the cinema for the last 10 minutes or so, and we could only hear the sound. ... More

Posted by Gimli The Dwarf at 03:42, 24 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Hard Candy

My boyfriend took me to see it on Saturday and for once it was a film that we both enjoyed (he's more action/horror i'm more more drama/thriller) I was blown away at the two leads, I can't think of many other films that managed to keep a film going with such a small cast. For me the editing really stood out, from the lingering shots on the two as they 'flirted' to the fast paced opertation and frantic searching of the house. It was everything I wanted after I saw the trailer, the only disa... More

Posted by jennibean at 09:51, 22 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Hard Candy

a film little short of pure brilliance. my friend, who only really enjoys action films loved this one. the acting was rather good and the story was great, just a shame the director failed to maintain the intensity as it seemed to peter out at the end ... More

Posted by bupesh at 08:53, 22 June 2006 | Report This Post


Certainly a different type of film indeed, I think I enjoyed it, and what a brilliant performance by both leading actors too...... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by n13roy at 18:39, 21 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

~~~~~~~~Spoilers~~~~~~~~ Not sure which part you didn't understand so... 1) She didn't castrate him, just froze him and then put a bulldog clip on him to mess with him. 2)She appeared as Kitty Pride in X3 ... More

Posted by Juvenilemike at 11:16, 21 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Gazdance The camera work and cinematography was excellent, love the use of close ups.  st that Hailey didn't actually castrate Jeff was good in that it was all so well done to make you believe that she did Finally the performances were excellent and it's nice to see Page (a fine actress) can balance performances like this with the likes of X3. 2/5 sp;   Did I miss something? ... More

Posted by Gimli The Dwarf at 22:06, 20 June 2006 | Report This Post


Unexpected!

Well the films main theme is pedophilia which did put me off it abit. But wow! This movie turned out to be different than you would imagine. And the ending was great! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by LeonX42 at 16:39, 20 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Hard Candy

Saw this the other day and here's my two (brief) pence.   Thought it was pretty good effort from all involved that brings up a couple of questions that aint particular easy to answer.  Its an uncomfortable film to watch at the build up and during the infamous castration scene half way through the -showing no-marks like Eli Roth how to generate tension, unease and discomfort without any sight of blood what so ever.  Even though its not classed as a horror film, ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kenada_woo at 15:01, 20 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Unsettling and a must-see

i want to see this film, but it appears that noone wants to go with me. As my bf said to me "i don't really want to be holding my nuts all evening". Sure it is not a great subject matter but i am really interested in how they potray paedophiles and what the outcome is, i suppose i will have to wait for it to come out on dvd to watch it....or go on my own ... More

Posted by sarahbee66 at 10:48, 20 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Unsettling and a must-see

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~SPOILERS~~~~~~~~~~~~ Hard Candy is certainly a movie that will divide people, although I don't think that the theme itself will be the seperating line. Instead the unusual package the film comes in will be. Veering away from any sort of extended cast the movie presents us with only two characters but which one is our protagonist? Do we back the vigilante or the supposed paedophile. The audiences' reluctance (or perhaps inability) to choose a hero echos the relative gre... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Juvenilemike at 20:39, 19 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Hard Candy

How strange.   The majority of films impose some sort of moral code on you so its refreshing to see something like this that has caught the attention of the mainstream remaining bigger than popcorn. I'm always amused when people say 'as if that would happen' and then are quite happy to accept deus ex machinas left right and centre as long as the explosions are loud enough. In the case of the suspension of disbelief the filmmaker is asking for here, (that a 14 year old could disabl... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PrivateJoker at 18:05, 19 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Hard Candy

nah, they're blowing it out of proportion..its not that bad, in fact, its only the guys performance that makes you cringe...its not graphic in the slightest ... More

Posted by maffew at 17:22, 19 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Hard Candy

ration was almost too much, I have seen more horror than most but the sound effects, the acting and the fact it went on for so long almost made me regret my large bag of popcorn. An astonishingly well done scene that has all the power of Audition's final moments without the gore but still made me look away. Utterly utterly horrid. p; Thats it. I'm not going to see it now ... More

Posted by Merly at 16:46, 19 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Hard Candy

Not too bad. It starts off well when they first meet, and makes some interesting points about how the girl seems very grown up but really the guy has to accept responsibility for everything that happens because he's the adult.   However, it all goes downhill when she attacks him. The young actress gives a very confident performance, but unfortunately her character is written as a complete psychopath, so the viewer has very little sympathy for her. In fact, I found myself wishing the gu... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Electric Babarella at 16:40, 19 June 2006 | Report This Post


RE: RE:

L: Gazdance SPOILERS! So, Hard Candy.  Not that great in my opinion.  By the reviews I've read it seems that critics are blinded by the 'controversial' subject matter and have missed the fact that the film is a morally dubious mess. The subject matter and the set up work well enough, early scenes betweenHailey (Page) and Jeff (Wilson) being note perfect, Page switching effortlessly between wide-eyed, naive schoolgirl and precocious, sexually aware teenager and W... More

Posted by maffew at 19:40, 18 June 2006 | Report This Post


I was really looking forward to a twisted fucked up suspenful film, full of twist and turns with a really great message that would make the audience think. Sadly, despite entertaining me, the film did little out. The abrupt, not drawn out start was great - it set up the film well, and got the viewer into the darkend world straight away. Then it drags, the film seemed to go on for ages despite it's 109 minute running time. The suspense is lost when the girl becomes totally unrelatable and unempha... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ukedge87 at 18:01, 18 June 2006 | Report This Post


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