Wednesday, January 5

Movies You Should Totally See: Hard Candy

Aristotle said that a good play should take place in a single location, contain a single central act and should have a time span of less then 24 hours. Most movies break these rules almost immediately, but there is a certain quaint type of film that still sticks to these rules. One room, a few people, real time. No flashy action, no grand narratives, just people talking.

Hard Candy had a grand total of three actors with dialogue, and one of those has about 20 seconds of screen time. Everything in it takes place within a single afternoon, within a single house. This is the house of Jeff, a charismatic photographer who mostly works with young girls. Very young girls. When the movie starts, we see him contacting his next model. He meets her in a coffeehouse, and invites her over. She pours them both cocktails. He suggests a photoshoot. She happily obliges. He fetches his camera. He walks back into the room. And he passes out. When he wakes up, he is tied to a chair, while the girl is mockingly looking down on him.

It's a bit of a cliche to call a film like this a game of cat and mouse, but the term was never more fitting. The girl has a plan, but how solid is the evidence for her accusations? How much is she telling? The man is into some fishy business, but does he actually deserve what is done to him? The film peels off the layers of lies slowly and deliberately, in a way that pretty much defines "gripping".

Aristotle based his rules on the theatre, an artform that (in his day) depended mostly on two things: a good script and great actors. The script of Hard Candy is perfectly fine, but you'll completely forget about it once the actors show up. Patrick Wilson does a great job as the man in a tight spot, but he is simply no match for Ellen Page. Watching her unleash all hell is a simply chilling experience, even more so because she portrays her character as a complete enigma. Even in the most vulnerable of moments it is never revealed how much she really knows, and when the movie is done many questions remain unanswered. It's an uncanny achievement, especially when you consider that Page was only 18 when she played the role.

But like the drama Aristotle described, this is something that first and foremost should be experienced. You can (and will) think about it all you want, but there will never be any conclusive answers. Hard Candy is a movie that will keep you in it's grip long after you've turned off your TV.  It's is a hell of ride, and not one you'll leave unscathed.


This just feels right. Don't really know why.

No comments:

Post a Comment