Exploring similar themes than Taxi Driver, only having the seedy underbelly of LA as its location, Hardcore doesn't take the easy route of completely moralizing the sex industry, but explores the sleaziness from the perspective of a confused and uncomfortable outsider. And let's face it: the sex industry, like everything else, has its dark side. It's not all fun and games and people who do it for pure pleasure.
Like "Cruising" or "Reefer Madness," "Hardcore" is in the tradition of films that, in the process of depicting some current hot topic social deviance, also aim to deliver maximum titillation, and wind up getting it all wrong, devolving into total ridiculousness. The final sequences, shot in San Francisco's North Beach, offer both some genuine cinematic punch and the full-on film noir otherwise lacking here.
so stupid and offensive it's hard to believe. also, actually stylish, which only works in its disfavor and it's probably what got it on mubi. I don't think I've seen a movie so stylish and so dumb at the same time. the artistic view is plagued by stereotypes about the sex industry and a 'Reefer Madness' type of mentality.
I seriously enjoyed this movie. Is it about the sleazy underbelly of American life? Yeah. But it's also about delving into an alien world, getting hurt, shedding skin... The psychology is precise and true, cinematography rich and atmospheric. George C. Scott is simply amazing in this film, a memorable role.
"Well then we're just alike. I mean, you think sex is so unimportant that you don't even do it. I think it's so unimportant that I don't care who I do it with." Complicated in its sexual politics, HARDCORE could have taken a morally righteous stand on its topic, but it doesn't, and offers something much more nuanced instead.
Calvinism doesn't get mentioned very much any more so you know this had personal connections for Schrader. The juxtaposition of George C. Scott's Michigan home life w/ his descent into the hell/Sodom & Gomorrah of the porn industry remains viscerally powerful. Despite some B-movie level stuff, Schrader paints the two sides with complexity, while still offering a critique of both extreme world views.