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‘Playtime is over…’
on 12 January 2015
Hard Candy is a 2005 provocative thriller film focusing on the interaction between 14 year old Thonggrrrl14 Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) and 32 year old Lensman319 Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson).
The film opens with an openly flirtatious online chat between Thonggrrrl14 and Lensman319 and in which the assertive Hayley soon convinces the eager Lensman319 to meet at a café to "hook up" after he admits to fantasising about her. At the café, Hayley suddenly comes across as shy and insecure but almost immediately openly flirts with the much older Jeff even making several references to her age (14 years old) and the fact they have only been chatting for three weeks, while Jeff generally restrains himself its obvious he's more than interested, even admitting that he must wait four years before he can be with her. Despite all this sparring between the two, Jeff reluctantly agrees to take the insistent Hayley back to his house on the cities outskirts. I won’t go into any more details other than to say the film isn’t what you expect.
The acting between the two characters is superb and the clever script makes things seem rather innocuous at first, but as the film advances you rapidly become aware of the subtleties of the wording and emphasis. Despite realising there is something not quite right with both characters, it’s difficult to tell who is the player and who the victim really is. Then the pace changes and the plot takes one of its numerous twists and turns. This is what keeps this film riveting, that clever script and that interaction between the two characters, for despite a couple of minutes, Hayley and Jeff are the only two on screen and its almost entirely set in 2-3 rooms of Jeffs plush house.
The disc loads to a 2 minute film trailer then cuts to the main title screen offering play, set up [5.1 or 2.0 -with subtitle options], scene selection and special features [mainly audio commentaries, deleted scenes]. A word of WARNING, once you go into ‘set up’ look away from the screen as a number of ‘stills’ flash rapidly on screen and give much of the plot away. My advice is to just hit play. Rated at 18 [for obvious reasons once you’ve seen it] it actually doesn’t contain much swearing 2-3 instances], no nudity and hardly any visual violence –which some might expect, yet the film is all the stronger for that as it reinforces the clever writing and uses your own imagination to fill in the blanks.
This is a very disturbing film on many levels but despite some dialogue appearing to be a bit advanced for a 14 year old, it remains unsettling. The film lost a few stars here and there, but picked them up in other places so remains a more than a four star getting a deserving ***** rating.
If you’re looking for a visual extravaganza, jumpy moments, a gore fest, or even mild nudity –you’ll be left feeling ripped off, but if it’s good acting and thought provoking dialogue you want, then this is definitely worth a watch.