F.I.L.M. of the Week (August 6, 2010)

6 08 2010

I’ve thought of three great comparisons for “Hard Candy,” the “F.I.L.M. of the Week” (First-Class, Independent Little-Known Movie, for those who need a refresher on the acronym), and I just had to include them in my post. I think they make a great lead. Imagine me clearing my throat, and then I say to you…

“Hard Candy” is “Misery” for the digital age. It’s Michael Haeneke’s “Funny Games,” pedophile edition!  And it’s “Paranormal Activity” without the ghosts!

I’m sure I probably have you more confused than anything right now, so allow me to explain.

The first scene, an internet chat, sets up our assumptions about the two characters.  Hayley (Ellen Page) is a 14-year-old girl who allows herself to be wooed by Jeff (Patrick Wilson), a much older photographer, presumably a pedophile from the way they speak to each other. When they arrange to meet for the first time at a coffee shop, we have roles assigned for them in our heads: Jeff the hunter and Hayley the victim.

But the movie quickly shows us that we have these roles mixed up once they return to his house.  As if in one of those crazy games where the deer shoot the rednecks, Hayley tortures Jeff in his own dwelling, punishing him for crimes that she isn’t certain he has committed.  But as the server of preemptive justice, she has little care for following the rules, and her innocence fades quickly as her games become more cruel and sadistic with each passing minute.

This isn’t a movie for the faint at heart and certainly not for those who want to think of Ellen Page as a good-hearted, spunky teenager.  Director David Slade makes a gripping movie by making all the events compellingly realistic, choosing to craft a very eerie natural tension by relying on the actors to really communicate the emotions.  In an era where the average movie changes shots every two seconds, Slade opts for several haunting long shots.  There’s a particular one of Patrick Wilson that last several minutes which will surely sear into your memory forever.

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6 responses

7 08 2010
Harry

I really wanna see this, but I haven’t gotten the chance yet. I’ve heard nothing but good things.

On a somewhat unrelated note, since you’ve just reviewed a movie featuring someone from Inception, I’d love to see your review of Bronson. I’m sure you’ve heard about it, I watched it about a week ago, and I found myself totally awestruck. Tom Hardy is a really fantastic actor, and it was so nice to see the contrast between Inception and Bronson. In Inception, Hardy was always sort of, stealing the scene with just a few lines. In Bronson, it’s all about him, it’s his film, and he totally owns it. Just a suggestion for a review, didn’t know where else to put it.

7 08 2010
Marshall

That’s been on my radar for a while now; I’ve heard many bloggers singing its praises. I’d love to check it out sometime soon.

On the Netflix queue it goes … and I can’t believe I’m saying that given that I was opposed to saying that two months ago.

7 08 2010
Paragraph Film Reviews

LOVE this film. LOVE the Misery / Haneke / Paranormal comparisons too!

I’ll never forget the first time I watched this, nor the second, nor third. And I don’t doubt that any other guy would after seeing the ice-pack bit!!! Even the very first IM conversation, chilling.

Favourite part was that this great film was pretty much all one location, two actors and one helluva tight story/script. Really put Page and Wilson on the map too. AWESOME choice for FILM of the Week.

8 08 2010
Red

Yeah, I fell in love with this film as well. It’s movies like this and the wonderfully unique The Tracey Fragments that make me think Ellen Page could pull off “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”.

11 08 2010
Fitz

Page would be a good take on Dragon Tattoo, but I think Fincher wants an unknown. She would be good though.

11 08 2010
Marshall

Dunno, I’ve heard the longer we don’t hear about the casting, the closer they move to casting someone well-known. I’ve read that the more Sony thinks about it, the more they want someone experienced to carry a franchise they are going to invest a lot of money in.

I’ve heard Natalie Portman for Lisbeth, which means I’m all in for the movie.

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