WEIRDLAND: "Hard Candy" (Some Candy Talking)

Monday, May 26, 2008

"Hard Candy" (Some Candy Talking)

"The power of Hard Candy lies in the fact that it makes you think rather than frightens you, and that for all of its 104 minutes runtime, you are wondering just who is playing who here.

Hayley is determined to wrench the truth out of Jeff, but her actions show that she has made up her mind long before meeting with him and that she is already convinced of his guilt. Hayley’s fortitude is more about justification for her actions than about actual fact-finding. And Jeff may be a dodgy guy, but both Hayley and the audience can never be sure of just how dodgy he truly is. It is never clarified if Jeff is actually guilty of anything, or merely feels guilty for desiring something he knows is wrong. The audience is left to make up their own minds, and opinions willsurely vary. One of Hard Candy’s strengths is that it in no way sexualises Hayley’s behaviour; yet in terms of the cruelties she inflicts, her unambiguous intentions and calculated actions are those of a grown-up. Hayley is fully aware of the consequences of her acts, deliberately aiming for those consequences even. Wilson (excellent in Angels in America and underplayed in The Phantom of the Opera) keeps Jeff sympathetic yet ambivalent. Jeff’s intentions are never clear, anything he says and does can be interpreted at least two ways. Wilson keeps the viewer guessing if Jeff is telling the truth (when he conveys a childhood memory, for instance) or just doing anything to escape the degradation Hayley imposes on him. The two actors are fully committed, and have good chemistry (that ever elusive quality, which can never be predicted) between them. Hard Candy suggests that, when exposed to extreme circums-
tances, people become what they are meant to deter from. By holding him over the abyss, Hayley may have created a monster out of a fairly decent guy, and unleashed in herself an inner demon that she’ll not be able to put back into its cage".


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