Netflix Pick of the Week: Hard Candy
After three weeks of chatting with the thirty-two year old photographer Jeff Kohlver over the Internet, fourteen year old Hayley Stark meets him in the Nighthawks coffee shop. Hayley flirts with him in spite of the age difference and proposes to go to his house. Once there, she prepares a screwdriver for them and Jeff passes out. When he awakes, he is tied up to a chair, and Hayley accuses him of pedophilia. Jeff denies the accusation, and Hayley begins to torture him in a cat and mouse game.
Hard Candy is an intense psychological drama, with incredible performances by both Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson. The two actors are practically the only two people with lines in the film, aside from some brief appearances by Sandra Oh and Jennifer Holmes. Thusfar I have only seen Wilson in The Alamo and Phantom of the Opera, but I was blown away with how he handled this performance. The slow, suspenseful film is set mainly in the Los Angeles home of photographer Jeff, a 32 year old man whom Hayley, a mature 14 year old girl who met him online, suspects to be a pedophile. The pacing was steady, and phenomenal - after a brief exposition we get into the real suspense about 20 minutes into the film, and it doesn't let up from there. The cinematography and camera work went excellently with the film. Rather than being extremely gory, the adult themes of the film lead to a more psychological creepiness. There are also questions that remain unanswered until the end of the film, when everything is wrapped up nicely - leaving you puzzled to the true identities and motives of the characters throughout most of the duration.