4 March 2013

Balls To The Nonce-Sense



As a warning to any moaning fannies, this contains one very minor spoiler.

My sixteenth birthday brought with it a moment of depression: the world no longer considered me a child, which meant that I could no longer become a victim of paedophilia. Don't get me wrong- I'm not saying that I wanted to be abused, it's just that now any sexual assault I might suffer would seem a little more run of the mill. I mean sure, if I was raped at this age, my attacker would go to prison but how is that a punishment? All that's happened here is that he's been locked up in a small building with other men who are forced to shower together. Now, I'm no gay-rapist but surely to be caged in with a buffet of free cock isn't the worst thing in the world for him? I don't want to be one of those idiots who claims prison is like a holiday camp because of course, that's just not true. With the constant threat of being shivved for a box of cigarettes, it's actually much closer to spending the night in a Manchester Travelodge. However if I had to be abused, I used to feel much better knowing that my attacker would instead be hunted down by a pissed up mob of bald men and idiots. It's not that I don't trust the justice system rather that I'd more quickly achieve a sense of closure if I was instead presented with his torn off bollocks whilst his house burnt down.

Kiss my fucking ring!
Of course, by now, a grim amount of time has passed since my sixteenth birthday. Currently I've been existing for around twenty-four uneventful years and I've thankfully, so far, avoided a brutal, back-alley bumming. The reason I mention all this is simply because I recently re-watched the pedo-tastic, chop-em-up Hard Candy. Not to sound like I've got a complex, but I think there are two main reasons that I luckily managed to avoid being molested as a child and neither of them are related to my looks. Firstly I was raised in a fairly un-religious environment meaning that I never had to spend time in the pedo-headquarters of the Catholic Church. Secondly I grew up for the most part without access to the internet or chat-rooms. Back in the days of dial-up modems, if somebody had wanted to assault me, they'd have had to arrange with my Mum for her to be off the phone during peak grooming hours. Despite its name sounding like a description of what priests might use to lure choirboys home with, it is actually the latter of these two things that Hard Candy focuses on.

The great thing about Hard Candy is in not knowing what will happen next and so I won't spoil anything that isn't mentioned in trailers or DVD plot descriptions, although if you're reading a blog about a film you've never seen then you really are taking a chance. The film begins by depicting an online conversation between Ellen Page- a fourteen year old girl, and Patrick Wilson, an inappropriately older man. They arrange to meet up for coffee and quickly end up back at his place for alcoholic drinks and a photo shoot. Of course we now live in a paranoid world of exaggerated fear where an innocent situation like that might be vilified by do-gooders jumping to conclusions. Just because an adult takes a child back to his home to get drunk and take saucy pictures of her, does that make him a paedophile? Well- probably, yes. However this film isn't just the Jimmy Saville biopic that it's starting to sound like. Fairly quickly we discover that Page might not be as innocent as she looks, as she begins to take revenge on him for the crimes that she believes Wilson has committed in the past. Regardless of how good this film may be, it's worrying to see what is basically propaganda for a trial that relies less on a jury and more on woman's intuition. 

It's always the quiet ones...
I say that last point because the genius of the film is in the way that it remains mostly ambiguous as to what exactly is going on. Although I'm pretty sure the end confirmed whether or not Wilson was a kiddie fiddler, a friend who watched it with me seemed to disagree. Although on principal I do always consider myself correct, I think that Hard Candy does leave just enough room for you to make up your own mind. At the end of the day, we as viewers never actually see any evidence either way and although Wilson doesn't look like a pedo technically, it's not like they have a uniform- although if they did, it would definitely by a tacky tracksuit with shit loads of grandpa-bling and a pocket for the OBE.

Sure, your kids will be safe with me!
I guess my point is that the sheer fact that Wilson is an alright looking chap in his early thirties also adds to the mystery. Either the character fits this description because he's a mostly innocent man or more interestingly, the film is trying to subvert our idea as to what a pedophile really looks like. In real life, I have actually met a few kiddie fiddlers and looking back I suppose they did have the looming quality of a demented, Scooby Doo villain about them. However I'm sure the urge to abuse children can't be directly linked to horrendous, oozing faces or we should probably start monitoring Piers Morgan’s browsing history a little more closely. As such having a man with the looks and youth of Patrick Wilson as the character makes everything much more subtle than had they used someone more freaky looking like say Gary Busey.

In terms of subverting expectations, the young girl is introduced to us wearing clothes that are essentially bought from Victims-R-Us. As is prominently shown on the posters and DVD’s Page has been clothed to look like a modern day version of Little Red Riding Hood. The difference being that in the original fairytale, the young girl finds herself to be the victim of a wolf whereas here it's the other way around. Where once Red Riding Hood said, “And what big teeth you have”, she now 
simply looks at his cock and says, “I have to admit that you are built”. That's before the second half of the film then becomes a prolonged version of Takashi Miike's violent rom-com Audition, however here, the violence, like everything else in this film, happens mostly off screen. Considering how gory some of these sequences could have been, the focus is less on the act of violence and more the suffering that it causes. As a word of advice - any men or women with a proud set of testicles will definitely find Hard Candy tough to watch in parts.

Evidence of this movie’s brilliance is in just how simple and stripped down the whole thing is. There's like two actors in the whole film and it mostly takes place in the one room. I've seen things with that basic set-up before but they're usually only five minutes long and embedded onto Youporn.com. The fact that this one holds the audience’s attention for over ninety minutes is a credit to the direction and writing. For anybody sick of misogynistic slasher films that depict woman as bimbo cascaras to gawp and stab at, Hard Candy is a welcome alternative. It's as though this film was made solely as a 'fuck you' to any of the dipshits that laughed during the God awful Scary Movie when the woman got stabbed in the tits. 

Despite how knowing and satirical that the script is though, it could very easily have fallen apart if not for the control that Page and Wilson display. After this film, Page went on to become the most pregnantest girl ever in Juno, and Wilson became the impotent fat Batman in the underrated Watchmen.
I also feel I should add that I think I'm a big fan of Patrick Wilson just because of how physically he's reminds me of a Hollywood remake of the British actor David Morrissey. Sort of like how Paris Hilton is the American remake of what we Brits would refer to as a boozed up slag.

Wish that mummy would ressurrect my career...
This was Director David Slade's first feature film, having graduated from music videos and adverts. After this he went on to helm 30 Days of Night before blemishing his CV with the third film in the Twishite saga. In his defence, that is apparently the best of the franchise but that's not saying too much is it? I mean I'm sure that Tom Cruise's poo would sell for a lot more on ebay than Brendan Fraser's but at the end of the day you're still only left with a load of shit. Some people have complained that his visuals on Hard Candy are distractingly ‘MTV’ at times but in a defence of that some people are also idiots. Slade's use of colour is nothing but brilliant using blues and pastel shades to expertly match the on screen emotion taking place- when the camera pans past a blood red wall, the chances are you're about to find out exactly why the working title for this was “Snip Snip”.

In the end, Hard Candy is a brilliant little thriller that tackles difficult subjects with, well- balls. I mean, fucking hell, if I've not ruined the centre piece of the film for you by now then congratulations- you're officially an idiot. I'm pretty sure that the whole testicle-scene is common knowledge anyway and if not, there's still so much more to enjoy and discover. Oh, sod it- I'll stick a minor spoiler alert thing at the top so nobody can moan at me. Anyway, for anybody that either hates pedophiles or loves good films then I strongly recommend watching this. If neither of those two statements apply to you, then I suggest it's time you ask yourself a few fairly strong questions after a good hard stare in the mirror. For fans of thrillers who aren't either on some sort of register or a priest whose ‘gotten away with it’ then check or re-check this out now.

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