Yesterday I finally got around to buying the DVD of ‘Hard Candy’, a film I’ve been meaning to watch for absolutely ages now. I watched it last night, but it’s taken me a while to process what I actually thought of it.
For those of you who don’t know the plot, I’ll briefly explain: it’s a thriller about a teenage vigilante (Ellen Page) who befriends a (supposed) paedophile online. When she eventually meets him in person, she takes the opportunity to punish him for his crimes – this punishment takes the form of various tortures. She finally offers him an ultimatum – he can either kill himself or face having his crimes revealed to the world.
It was much more intense than I expected. I did like it, it was a very well-crafted film, although “enjoyable” isn’t the word I would use to describe it. It hooked me because of the tension and the horrific tortures which it explored, along with Page’s fantastic acting (I must admit – I have had a slight girl crush on her since I saw ‘Juno’ all those years ago, and she was part of the reason I wanted to see the film. Her portrayal of a 14-year-old was perfect – at times, I found it hard to believe that she wasn’t really that young). It was definitely one of those films which makes for engrossing viewing every now and then, but isn’t exactly the kind of film you’d watch just because you were bored and needing entertained.
I really admired the cinematography of it though. The opening titles really reminded me of a Hitchcock thriller – I think this was partly because quite a large amount of credits were shown at this point, something typically found in older films but not newer releases, and also the graphic design of it, which was reminiscent of the sliding, slashed opening titles to ‘Psycho’ (1960). It really had that old-fashioned feel to it. This was in some ways an interesting contrast to the fact that the film was essentially based around the consequences of internet grooming – a very contemporary issue. I also enjoyed the music in the opening titles (composed by Harry Escott and Molly Nyman, daughter of composer Michael Nyman), although I was surprised by the lack of soundtrack throughout the film as a whole. There were a few microtonal drones to build suspense dotted around the soundtrack, but really nothing much that you could call “music”. This did work well though, as it created much more suspense than if there was constant music in the background. I’ve noticed this is a common feature in newer thrillers – I suppose it makes the viewer feel as if they are witnessing the action first hand, as opposed to through a screen, as obviously there isn’t a soundtrack to everyday life.
All in all, I did like ‘Hard Candy’ but I found it a bit too brutal and bleak at times. It’s not one for the faint of heart!
My overall rating? 6.5/10.