Hard Candy (2005)
There’s not a week that goes by now that a celebrity is on trial in the U.K. for past sexual/indecent offences. Just recently Rolf Harris has been found guilty of 12 counts. His victims have found justice, and hopefully start to find peace. Sadly this dark side of modern life is not confined to U.K. there are chatrooms around the world where paedophiles meet and groom young people, in hopes of meeting with them and causing even more distress. It doesn’t bear thinking about what goes through their sick minds. Most of the time they get away with it, leaving the victim in state of fearing, scarring them emotionally. Justice is just an idea that seems impossible to achieve.
I’ve heard of the old punishment for paedophiles to be skinned alive and burned, when you think about it, its barbaric to really think about, wanting to inflict more pain upon then. But there are proper channels to go through to ensure justice prevails once caught. For Hayley Stark (Ellen Page) a court of law is not the first thought that enters her mind when she agrees to meet up with suspected pedophile Jeff Kohlver (Patrick Wilson) who we as the audience know straight away wants to do more than have a cup of coffee with seemingly innocent Hayley in Hard Candy (2005). We are lured into a state of unease for Hayley who we believe is falling into a trap, being a confident teenager, enjoying the company of an older man paying href attention she thought she’d never be getting. The first sign is the drink she is given which she remakes herself, a street savvy young person making sure she’s safe, putting the audience slightly at ease.
All this is turned on its head in the last half of the dark thriller, what could easily have become darker for the usual victim. Instead the Jeff becomes the victim of a just as calculated form of torture as Hayley throws everything on its head, to deliver her form of justice to him. On one level I’m on her side, good on her for standing up for the scum that could have easily have made her life hell. On another there is a right and fairer way of getting justice, which can be harder to achieve, taking longer, reliving the nightmare of the events that have scared the victim.
However this personal form of justice feels more just and right, being able to inflict pain on the sexual predator, who may protest their innocence to the very end. Reaching new lows when she carries out a castration on Jeff, who by this point has lost control completely after his being tied down, house ransacked for evidence of past victims. It’s a very problematic for of torture that does feel so right, stop the offender from feeling where he needs it most. Let them suffer, It could also be seen as going too far, when does justice lose all meaning? This is after all acting out the fantasy of the victim to get even, the only real way is to see them behind bar, human rights sadly stand in the way of such people we perceive and see to not deserve them.
With a young Ellen Page who is playing her darkest role at such a tender age able to deliver an adult performance, channelling the anger and frustration. Going beyond what most would do at her age, investigating and following Jeff around the internet. She doesn’t want to be his next victim. It’s the ending that probably goes too far, even after the castration which would satisfy most victims. I couldn’t say for sure, luckily having never been a victim sexual crime, each case is individual case is different, and justice is never an easy road to travel if at all. It is after all a film that delivers a cathartic revenge that so many would wish to deliver themselves. In an ideal world these horrific crimes would never take place.
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