Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Suzy V. and I went to see the movie HARD CANDY late Monday. I'd been wary of this film, a cloistered revenge fantasy of the kind that pops up every five years or so. I was right to be. The visuals were just fine, bright hues intermixed with warm tones--often bright candy colored--and the actors well cast. But, this fucking film is gratuitously brutal, and for a film that appears to wants the audience to be inescapably confronted with the genuine costs--the horrors--of pedophilia, it's the most misogynist piece of trash I've seen in a long, long time. The brilliant, angry, psychotic teenage girl who revenges herself on a randomly chosen man guilty of 'mild' pedophilia (is there such a thing?) is nothing but a cipher as a character, a stereotypical 'angry dyke,' which utterly undermines any new, wholesome view of the real cost of pedophilia, with which the audience might otherwise leave the theater. I found the torture scene unbearable, but sat through it, hoping for redemption. At the start of the inevitable follow-up violence that transpires after that scene, I bolted from the theater, taking Suzy with me. I couldn't stomach any more. Though, admittedly, having spent the weekend acting in a film which dug up deep emotion from me, I wasn't in a mood to stomach much more than typical summer action fare, a mood I should have heeded.


suzy said...

Turns out, David, that we missed an important reveal that serves to throw the preceding scenes and character intention into a somewhat different context. Perhaps had we stayed, we would have an overall different opinion of the film.

We missed this because, frankly, the 70 or so minutes we did endure the relentless brutality on the big screen in front of us shut down our capacity for engagement. The message in that first hour or so was: men who indulge in sexual fantasies involving teenage girls deserve castration, humiliation, and whatever punishment a potential victim of their puerile thoughts drums up. It’s been done.

Nothing new about rape revenge movies: Repulsion, Straw Dogs and let’s not forget good ‘ol Thelma and Louise, to name a few. But what was really tedious in Hard Candy was the overt manipulation of the audience. The female character, Haley (not her real name it turns out) cat-and-moused the viewers right along with her antagonist. She disclosed nothing to us that she didn’t retract factually, emotionally and dramatically. What this amounts to, over time, is disingenuous reveal that smacks of patronization. The payoff, if it came at all, came too late.

Like David, I appreciated some of the camera work and the aesthetics, but, at the end of the day, who gives a shit? You can get that on a carnival ride.

David Loftus said...

I found it a bracing piece of work, beautifully designed and impressively acted. At first I was put off by the trendy topicality, and the unbelievability of a young heroine who could be so assertive and so well organized. But the conviction of the acting and technical work helped to keep me with it, and there were some interesting plot twists along the way that helped keep my interest, even if ultimately it was too tricky and strained credulity.