Finding a horrifying middle ground between art film and exploitation film, Hard Candy
is about a pedophile and the sad things that happen to him on his most unhappy day. Patrick Wilson plays the perverted Jeff, and Ellen Page is Hayley, his intended victim. Unfortunately for Jeff, Hayley is also a fan of victimization, and she turns the tables on him in a grotesque and extended sequence that pretty much eliminates any sympathies the audience might have for any of the characters. On the other hand, its beautifully shot with a real attention to color and an impeccable awareness of story telling. The dialogue, at least in the first half, is disturbingly effective, and the directing has a sharp precision. If all of this had gone into making something other than a stylish version of I Spit on Your Grave
, I would have given Hard Candy
much higher marks, but as it stands, it seems at best an extremely promising freshman effort.