Friday, January 19, 2007

Hard Candy (2006)

On the evidence here, director David Slade and writer Brian Nelson are the kind of fellows who fancy themselves smarter than they really are. Hard Candy, as phony and manipulative an example of revenge porn as I've yet seen, is stuffed to bursting with first-level thinking and blatant deck-stacking. For a while, I thought that might be part of the film's strategy - the reactions towards the characters are too easy, too obvious to be anything but a smokescreen hiding later rug-pulling plot twists, went my logic. But no, what you see is what you get, as neither Nelson nor Slade attempt to inject anything resembling ambiguity or uncertainty into the situation they've concocted. But then, why am I expecting intelligence from a film that has Patrick Wilson decrying "that phony music video crap" right before a montage that's been edited and art-directed within an inch of its life just like a phony music video? The impressive visual look recalls Powell & Pressburger, but the substance of the film suggests a cut-rate Peeping Tom minus any of the complicated qualities that made Powell's disquieting classic so special. Instead, what Nelson & Slade have given us is a cheap and nasty button-pusher that implicitly praises the audience for their ability to be revulsed by all those nasty pedophiles without having to actually say anything about Internet kiddie smut and how it has, in essence, led us to a culture of entrapment. I know the idea of a sympathy-for-the-devil film about a kiddie raper sounds crass, but what's really crass is how the people who made this are exploiting a very real problem for the sole purpose of attracting attention to themselves. So fuck them.

Grade: D


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