Welcome to Screen Gems, our weekend of diving into adjacent queer and queer past titles worth watching or revisiting.
The sticky: hard candy
In honor of Elliot Page’s first TV interview with Oprah Winfrey since coming out as transgender, we would like to remind our readers of the actor’s auspicious debut in 2005.
Hard Candy plays Page as Hayley, a 14-year-old internet chatterbox. She catches the attention of Jeff (Patrick Wilson), a 32-year-old photographer who convinces her to meet for a coffee. A flirtatious conversation ensues, which sees the couple adjourn at Jeff’s place. There, Hayley suggests having a cocktail. Jeff reluctantly agrees… and suddenly loses consciousness. When he wakes up, Hayley has him tied to a chair and accuses him of pedophilia.
More than that, we won’t reveal it here, as Hard Candy is the genre of film best appreciated for its many twists and turns, inversions, and unyielding suspense. And when we say “inflexible”, we mean it: rarely have we ever seen a film at this time with white joints. We attribute this to the splendid performances of Page and Wilson – practically the only two actors to appear onscreen for the duration of the film (Sandra Oh has a cameo, and to our memory, is the only other speaking role). As accomplished performers, Page and Wilson layer their characters with one secret after another. Director David Slade somehow manages to make what is essentially a single location seem expansive, and Brian Nelson’s script knows how to play with an audience. Is Jeff a pedophile? Is Hayley just crazy? Can both be true? Can both be wrong? Hard Candy inspires passionate conversation and reflection afterwards.
Intense but not violent, shocking but not graphic, and featuring two electric performances, we suggest you give Hard Candy a watch. As with the promising Oscar winner, this is the kind of film that raises questions that may not have definitive answers, and not the kind viewers will soon forget.
Streams on Tubi, VUDU, Amazon, YouTube and iTunes.