Monday, June 12, 2006

HARD CANDY - trash

It makes me laugh to think what little it takes for a movie to kick up a fuss in the western hemisphere. Take for example HARD CANDY. The content seems provocative. A 14 year-old girl meets a 32-year old fashion photographer in an internet chatroom. He takes her to his house and allows her to mix alcoholic drinks. He wakes up, having been drugged, tied up and threatened with castration as a punishment for his alleged paedophilia. Little Red Riding Hood (no obvious metaphor with the wardrobe there, then!) is now the avenger. The movie should have been a thriller played out literally and metaphorically on a knife edge. Is the man really a paedophile? Will the girl really castrate him? Will a passing neighbour catch her in the act? Who is she anyway? Is what she does heroic or psychotic? Can we justifiably feel sympathy for the man?

But it's just a tease. Well-acted, to be sure. Indeed, superbly acted. And cleverly scripted. We all love those on-the-nose popculture references. But finally, the movie fails to deliver anything other than a moderately engaging did-he-do-it, will-she-do-it thriller. Aside from the opening 10 minutes of the flick, when the protagonists meet for the first time, I never felt uncomfortable with proceedings. The movie entirely failed to play beyond the confines of the thriller-genre. My emotions and intellect were never challenged over how to engage with the character of the alleged paedophile.

Indeed, the makers of this flick should have checked out THE WOODSMAN to see how this sort of material can be crafted into a far more profound and honest investigation of this thematic material. Otherwise, it just looks like they've used paedophilia as a cheap hook on which to hang some pretty trashy, superficial material - in much the same way as the Holocaust was exploited as a backdrop for the similarly sado-masochistic material of THE NIGHT PORTER. And as for the script-writer's use of Roman Polanski's name, I would not be surprised if he is slapped with a lawsuit. Once again, it just smacks of lazy exploitation rather than honest engagement with the issues.

P.S. To any of you wondering if this movie is similar to, or a remake of, AUDITION, the simple answer is no. HARD CANDY has none of the originality, visceral impact or visual style of AUDITION. If you want something genuinely intellectually and physically provocative, you should check out DUMPLINGS instead.

HARD CANDY showed at Sundance 2005 and went on release in the US in April 2006. It is currently on release in the UK and hits Germany on June 29th, Australia on July 6th nd France on September 27th.


  1. Harsh to call it trash. The ending is ridiculous, though. Perhaps better to say that it is worth a look?

  2. I liked it. It's more edgy (ha!) if you're a guy.

  3. I totally disagree. This is the best film I have seen this year.