HARD CANDY (David Slade). 103 minutes. Opens Friday (April 28). For venues and times, see Movie Listings. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Thonggrrrrrl14 and Lensman319 meet in an online chat room. She's 14, he's aroused. They agree to meet in person. That much is the story of countless modern encounters. The rest of Hard Candy plunges off into fiction.
Ask absolute plausibility from Brian Nelson 's screenplay and the story falls apart. Would most real teenage girls and adult men act as the fictional cat-and-mouse do here? Not likely, maybe not ever.
But Hard Candy still works as provocative drama for two reasons. First, it deliberately exaggerates the power dynamics between girls and men, playing on and against audience expectations in a way that cranks up the tension.
Second, it has the benefit of Ellen Page . The rising Canadian star (Mouth To Mouth, the upcoming X-Men 3) tears through this movie with a voice like metal shears and intent to match. She's smart, angry and very complicated. This is one of the best performances so far this year.
Like Abel Ferrera's Ms. 45 - of which Hard Candy could be the 21st-century version - Nelson's and director David Slade 's story is more illuminating of male fears than female anger. On one level this is simply a girlsploitation two-hander. But Page's searing turn as a castrating angel exceeds what her male writer and director might have had in mind.