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Hard Candy (2005)

Hard Candy movie

For whatever reason I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about Elliot Page on my Facebook news feed recently. If you weren’t aware, Elliot Page (formally Ellen Page) is the actor known for movies such as Juno (2007), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), Inception (2010) and more recently the tv series The Umbrella Academy. In 2020 he publicly came out as a trans man.

His (or rather her at the time) breakout role was a movie I’ve wanted to watch but have put off watching for certain reasons for more than 15 years. Last night I figured it was time I manned up (no pun intended) and got it watched.

Hard Candy (2005)

If you haven’t seen it, it stars Ellen Page (as she was known at the time) and Patrick Wilson (Watchmen, The Conjuring), and only about two other cast members.

This is what it’s about according to the internet:

"Hayley is a precocious 14 year old who goes to a coffee shop to meet Jeff, the photographer she met on the internet. Jeff thinks he is in for a real treat, but Hayley has different ideas. After drugging Jeff and tying him down, Hayley reveals that she knows Jeff preys on teenage girls, and she has a plan to wring a confession from him."

A better and more to the point synopsis would be something like:

“A 14 year old girl entraps a suspected pedophile and proceeds to cut his balls off.”

And it was being armed with this nugget of information that made me hesitant to watch the movie for so many years (I honestly didn’t know if I could stand the trauma). As it happens though there’s quite a bit more to it than cutting off balls…

I’ve been a fan of Patrick Wilson for a long time. I think he’s a criminally underrated actor that unfortunately these days mainly seems to be recognised from the Conjuring movies - movies that as good as some of them are, really don’t showcase his true acting talent (I highly recommend watching Lakeview Terrace). This film is no exception.

The range of emotions he conveys throughout the movie is incredible and he’s utterly convincing in his role as the film's antagonist. Despite the movie’s premise and the sinister nature of his character I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him being in such a desperate and helpless situation, and that’s largely due to his performance. You’ve got to be a pretty decent actor to make the audience feel empathy for a suspected child molester.

Ellen Page (I’m going to use she/her pronouns due to the fact that that’s who he was at the time the film was made) is also superb in the role of Hayley. She was 17 when she made this movie but due to her youthful appearance is easily convincing as the 14 year old girl she plays. It makes for some uncomfortable scenes early on in the movie but I guess that’s the whole point.

The two main stars are brilliantly matched in their acting ability with Wilson going through just about every emotion you can imagine, and Page’s character flipping from innocent and naive child, to sadistic, cold and calculating, unforgiving and uncompromising vigilante in the space of one scene.

The story as I said is much more than a lesson in castration. It’s also not another “Hostel” type movie which is something I was a bit worried about going in (I don’t have the stomach for it these days). It’s clever, shocking, agonisingly tense, gripping, and it has a few twists and turns that keep you wondering how the whole thing will end right up until it actually does.

If you haven’t seen it and enjoy a tense and intelligent revenge-thriller with brilliant performances I highly recommend checking it out. However, male viewers should be warned that if the idea of having their testicles surgically removed with no anaesthetic makes the blood drain from their face and the last thing they ate make a surprise re-appearance, they may want to either give it a miss (please don’t) or just look away for the duration of one scene. Trust me, it’s worth sticking with it…

Seen it? Let me know what you think down in the comments.

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