Posted by: detourmag on June 28, 2007 at 8:40 am

The American news media has a fetish for over-hype. Everyone and everything gets the treatment, from spoiled debutantes to average criminals. Nowadays pedophiles even have their own hit show. This is despicable, of course. Pedophilia is horrible; it’s an act worthy of vigilante justice. Like in Japan, for example, where teenage girls enacted their own form of revenge by using themselves as bait. Hard Candy, a psychological thriller seeped in moral ambiguity, sets a similar attack on American soil.

The far above average Ellen Page plays Hayley, a 14-year-old girl who looks like a 12-year-old boy and talks like she’s 24. Her 30-something foil, played by Chris Martin look alike Patrick Wilson, is a photographer by the name of Jeff.

The story starts normally enough. Boy meets girl. Boy takes girl home for drinks. Hold it. If alarms haven’t started going off before, they do now. But despite expectations, Hayley is no victim, and flip-flopping allegiances, combined with a script written on Swiss cheese, leaves questions as to if Jeff is exactly villainous himself.

There is no question that pedophiles deserve to be punished. Although Jeff doesn’t exactly deserve sympathy (what kind of 30 -year-old guy meets teenage girls for coffee?), you’re not exactly rooting for Hayley. While Jeff, animal he might be, seems more emotional and scarred, Haley is a pure sociopath who uses both psychological and physical torture in her attempts to enact revenge.

And Page steals the film. She transitions from cutesy/goofy to crazy/scary without a hitch. But while Hard Candy has strong performances and a solid concept, it fails in its execution. It raises a serious issue, then does little more than jerk it back and forth for cheap thrills that only get tiresome as the film progresses. Even at the conclusion, we’re left wondering if there was a lesser of two evils, or just two evils. Although Hard Candy attempts to leave an impact-you never know who you’re dealing with. But it turns out fetish is on this film’s mind, too. — Natalie B. David


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