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:: Hard Candy

Hard Candy is not what you’d call an enjoyable film. Although the violence isn’t particularly graphic, its themes of paedophilia, torture and revenge make this an uncomfortable and confronting hour and a half. For those who can stomach the sinister side of life however it is a gripping and thought-provoking piece of cinema.

Fourteen year old Hayley (Ellen Page) meets thirty-two year old photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson) on the Internet. After chatting flirtatiously they agree to meet up for coffee. When Jeff says he has a rare recording from one of Hayley’s favourite bands back at his place, Hayley can’t resist. The scene is set for a terrifying game of cat and mouse but the question is which is which? All the evidence suggests Jeff is a paedophile but Hayley is clever for her age and bitterly vengeful.

The little known lead actors build the psychological drama well and allow the audience to lose themselves in the story. Patrick Wilson, who plays Jeff, is an experienced stage actor while young Hayley is played by 19-year old Ellen Page. Some might remember her small and somewhat unchallenging role as Kitty Pryde, who walked through walls in X Men 3, but it’s in Hard Candy that she proves she has the talent to lead a cast. Sandra Oh from the television show Grey’s Anatomy, the best-known face in the film, makes a brief appearance as a supporting character.

Although the premise of Hard Candy - making a paedophile suffer for his crimes - is based in righteousness, it is very difficult to feel sympathy for any of these characters. Hayley’s smug attitude and vigilante justice with Jeff’s bizarre turn-ons and his own ruthless streak make them both dislikeable. People intending to watch this film should prepare themselves for its particularly nasty castration scene. The psychological torment of the man in question is far more difficult to stomach than any of the actual violence depicted.

Hard Candy may be a fascinating film but is definitely an acquired taste.