Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Hard Candy (2005)

She's bait see, like chum...Mmm fresh chum!

Genre: Drama Thriller

Starring: Ellen Page (X-Men: The Last Stand; Mouth To Mouth), Patrick Wilson (The Alamo; "Angels In America")

Directed By: David Slade

Overview: When a 32-year-old photographer finally meets the girl from the chatroom, she asks if he'd let her come over for a while. He's in for a little surprise...

Acting: I guess it's harder to play the role of a teen-aged psychopathic man-hater than it is to be a victim. For as much as I've heard how great a job this girl did, I can't say she seemed genuinely convincing. It would have been nice to have some real Sharon Stone Basic Instinct melodramatic freak out moments to crank the thrill up. As for Patrick Wilson, this guy is one to watch. Such subtle displays does he hammer out so perfectly in brief moments of revelation that I was sincerely moved by him. He's gonna do well in this career.
Rating: 8

Cinematography: The beauty that is Hard Candy is in the cinematography. We open with chat words being posted on a computer, and somehow the lens manages to capture it dynamically. The we cut to an extreme close-up of fork cutting through a slice of cake. I started impressed and I left impressed. Colour schemes and tight shots are what this is about but with enough long shots to give you a rest. Go storyboard guy. What I didn't like was the scenes that could have used the visual to enhance the dynamic of our opinion towards this girl. A simple, blurry, four-second shot of some photos while the viewer looks in disgust would have done so much for my overall opinion of this film. I find it strange that such a thing wasn't done.
Rating: 9

Script: Half way through I asked, "Was this originally a play?" The reply was, "no, but the writer is a playwrite." I could tell right away. This is, as most plays are, three scenes with heavy on the dialogue. You'd best like that sort of thing because I didn't find the dialogue all that original and unique, which makes the need for a visual spectacle all the more important. Lucky I got it.
Rating: 7

Plot: As stories go, it's well paced. We have a girl who agrees to see the guy she's been online chatting with for 3 weeks. He's 32, she's effin' 14. Right there you start off with a bitter taste in your mouth, till you think, well maybe that's NOT why they're hooking up. Then he says "I have to wait for YOU for 4 years," implying that he's all hot for her. Ick. Well he's in for one hell of a surprise. Nylon ropes work such wonders, even little girls can use them!
Rating: 8

Mood: Inately, with this kind of a 'hostage' thriller, there's always a risk that the spectator will get frustrated at all the things the characters DON'T do, like "CALL 911!", "Oh my God, kick her in the head over and over till her guts spill out!" and, "Why doesn't she just KILL HIM!?" This is the problem with this kind of thriller, but Hard Candy does quite the good job of trying to answer those questions without leaving behind a gritty frustration, but if you ask me, had I been this guy, it sure would have ended differently.
Rating: 7

"Mmm, I like a guy who likes to pick his cherries before they're ripe!"

Overall Rating: 78% (Not So Hard To Swallow)

Aftertaste: A great example of a perfectly professional film with all the Tees crossed, the Ies dotted, and a solid career builder for all involved, yet it just didn't quite do it for me. The climactic ending used the same dialogue as a little low-budget Canadian film I saw a few years back, and the final motivations of our captive were far too left field for my liking. It works, it's solid, and you might just love it, but as a critic, I think I'll let myself be critical.