Among the bigger problems with "Hard Candy" is that the film apparently wants audiences to root for either a kidnapper who tortures her victim psychologically and physically or, worse, a possible pedophile.
So to say that this suspense/revenge-thriller is in bad taste would be a real understatement. Though it is skillfully made and well-acted, it's also exploitative and nauseating.
You have to wonder why anyone would make such a film, much less expect anyone to want to see it.
Patrick Wilson ("The Phantom of the Opera") stars as Jeff Kohlver, a 32-year-old photographer who's been carrying on an online "flirtation" with 14-year-old Hayley Stark (Ellen Page).
As the film begins, Hayley agrees to meet Jeff in a public place and suggests they go back to his home. However, the wise-for-her-age Hayley quickly turns the tables on this cyber-predator by drugging him and tying him to a chair. She then begins interrogating him about his connection to a missing girl and about his previous relationship.
Things get really nasty when she threatens to mutilate him.
Director David Slade definitely has an eye for striking visuals (which isn't too surprising, when you consider his music-video background). And the performers are very good, especially Page, who was actually 16 when the film was shot. (She'll be seen next in "X3: The Last Stand," playing the popular character Kitty Pryde.)
But Brian Nelson's script is filled with convenient contrivances that strain the film's credibility. And as the characters are written, neither comes across as particularly sympathetic.
Turning a pedophile into a victim is, all by itself, a questionable move.
"Hard Candy" is rated R for frequent use of strong sexual profanity, scenes of torture, some strong violence (including violence against women), frank sexual discussions and other sexually suggestive talk, some drug content (use of a date-rape drug), and some brief gore. Running time: 103 minutes.