Director: David Slade
Writer: Brian Nelson
Stars: Patrick Wilson, Ellen Page, Sandra Oh
This film has certainly caused lots of controversy. Both good and bad. It is an ambiguous film that does try to lead you to a conclusive decision, but ultimately it is still fairly ambiguous. There are a lot of subtle scenes which show relevant things in order to try to make you side with one character or the other.
Jeff Kohlver (A brilliant Wilson) and teenager Hayley Stark (a disturbing Page) have been chatting for some weeks online. Jeff is a professional photographer and Hayley is an underage teenage girl. They agree to meet at a local coffee shop. From here things progress, with Jeff asking a number of times about safety, and Hayley a number of times flirting and leading him on.
Things progress and from here they head back to Jeff’s place where Hayley proceeds to flirt more with Jeff before proceeding to drug him and then tying him up, accusing him of being a peadophile. This is a difficult film to discuss due to peoples inherent views regarding this misinformed subject and everything else between. It also opens up discussion regarding mob mentality and taking the law into ones own hands.
Needless to say, the cat and mouse game begins as Hayley starts to show her twisted side towards Jeff. There are lots of clues and dialogue to keep you guessing as to whether Jeff is innocent or not. What isn’t ambiguous is that regardless of Kohlver’s guilt or innocence, Hayley Stark is one crazy and disturbed individual. And this is where I think the lines get blurred. Though I feel the film wants us to side with Hayley, neither character is actually good.
As a film, the directing is reasonable and the two leads (who carry the entire film) are outstanding in their roles. These two do make the film, given they are the real focus in the film and the pretty localized setting of being mainly shot in Jeff’s apartment. Overall this is an above average film which is well acted, but ultimately in my opinion, one which leaves a little bit of a sour taste and perhaps leaves you with more questions and debate than it ultimately answers.
The Sage’s Rating: