2005 - United States - 103 minutes
Writer - Brian Nelson
Director - David Slade
Internet Movie Database User Rating - 6.7/10 - Link to IMDB
Roger Ebert's Rating - 3.5 of 4 Stars - Link to Ebert's Review
My Rating - 4 of 5 Stars

The subject matter of this film is extremely distasteful and something I normally eschew, but NetFlix told me that they thought I would like the film. It's kind of creepy to find out how right they were. Even though it makes me sick at my stomach to think of what takes place in the film, I have to admit that it was extremely good.

First, let me try to tackle the subject matter - pedophilia. As a retired school teacher who worked thirty-two years day and night in efforts to benefit the lives of children, it makes my skin crawl to think that there are adults out there so deprived and willing to use children for their own perverted sexual gratification. They have no excuse. Period!

That being said, I must admit that I am also repelled by the view of the children who are the victims in this media-steroid pumped society of ours. Yes, very young children who fall under the influence of these beasts are truly innocent victims, but teenaged girls (and, I suppose, boys) who seek out these liaisons over the Internet are more idiot than innocent. Still the burden of guilt falls to the adult - and rightly so. There is a great line in the film that goes something like… fourteen year old girls are very good at pretending to be adult, but it is your job as the adult to stop that pretense.

The basic premise of the film is that a girl who has been chatting online with an older man arranges a meeting in a neutral location and is then convinced to go with him to his home. From that point, the tables begin to turn. To disclose any more would spoil the film for anyone interested, but it turns out to be a taunt thriller with a startling message.

The actors who play the girl and the pedophile are extraordinary. Most of the film is the conversation and interaction between the two, but Ellen Page as the girl and Patrick Wilson as the pedophile are so skilled that they keep you rapped to their every word and move. The script is crafted in such a way that your allegiance to one or the other is brilliantly tugged back and forth - extraordinary, considering you know that the man is a scummy bottom feeder from the very beginning.

Hard Candy is not an easy film to watch, but a still a rewarding cinematic experience.

Neil Turner
September 23, 2006

Hard Candy