While we’re all trying to figure that out, though, let’s run through the myriad reasons why Hard Candy ranks up there with Darren Aronofsky films as unsettling entertainment.
First off, any fictional film detailing the abuse of children is gonna be creepy. But the fact that Hard Candy’s protagonist – kinda – is the teenaged girl and the script was written by a grown man complicates any sort of professional distance. Surely, written works, if not reflective of one’s life, lend insight. The inner workings of screenwriter Brian Nelson aren’t laid bare. And it’d be tough to guess the guy’s into little girls, but at least pieces of dialogue included here spring from thoughts the guy had independent of this project. Weird, huh?
Apart from that, and secondly, the film’s art director made the decision to lop Page’s hair off, leaving her with something approximating a grown out bowl cut dating to the sixties. She’s a bit boyish in the first place with her slight frame, but the hair cut ratchets that up to untoward levels.
Next, the plot. Page’s character meets some dude in a chat room and arranges a meeting. Here, Hard Candy already seems a bit creepy, opening with a close up of a computer screen and the character’s accompanying chatter. But when the fourteen year old convinces the much older guy – he’s a sometimes fashion, sometimes nature photographer – under the auspices of hearing a bootlegged Goldfrapp track, it feels like the indiscretions are set to begin at any moment.
Instead, the Page character sets about drugging and subduing the guy as she dances around in a state of half undress. The plot works and viewers are exposed to the weird vigilante bent to Page’s character. It’s completely unrealistic that such a young girl (or boy) would be sophisticated enough to pull of the scheme, but maybe…
Anyway, what ensues is an aurally graphic castration and something of a surprise ending. Well, maybe not a surprise, since it’s what we were waiting for the entire time, but entertaining in a filthy and startling sort of way.