"Oh my God, it's my daughter!" wails George C. Scott in the most celebrated scene in HARDCORE, an inconsistent but challenging film from writer-director Paul Schrader (BLUE COLLAR, AMERICAN GIGOLO, CAT PEOPLE, MISHIMA).
Scott (in a performance that ranges from completely over-the-top to downright heartbreaking) plays Jake Van Dorn, a devoutly religious Calvinist from Grand Rapids, Michigan, whose teenaged daughter, Kristen (Davis), disappears during a church trip to California. Van Dorn ventures out to sinful
California to find his missing child. He hires sleazy private detective Andy Mast (Boyle) to look for her and then returns to his virtuous life back in Michigan. Soon he gets a call from Mast, now in Grand Rapids, telling him to meet him in town. The cheap detective takes Van Dorn to a porno
theater where they watch a film in which the devout Van Dorn spots his daughter. He breaks down sobbing. Mast returns to LA to continue the hunt but Van Dorn can no longer stand by as an observer. He flies to California himself to begin his own search in LA's X-rated underworld.
Realistic one minute, unbelievable the next, HARDCORE is a truly schizophrenic film. A somber, serious moment is followed by a tongue-in-cheek parody or a flat-out joke. Every scene involving the porno film industry is played strictly for laughs, with wildly exaggerated characters. Scott's
performance is similarly divided. He's completely serious during the scenes in which he shows the desperation of the parent of a lost child, but becomes loud and terribly unconvincing as he wanders through the peep shows and massage parlors. He even poses as a porn producer to look for leads to
his daughter's whereabouts. Whatever its flaws, this is one of very few American films to deal with fundamentalist beliefs about predestination, faith, and sin with empathy and intellectual acuity.
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- Released: 1979
- Rating: R
- Review: "Oh my God, it's my daughter!" wails George C. Scott in the most celebrated scene in HARDCORE, an inconsistent but challenging film from writer-director Paul Schrader (BLUE COLLAR, AMERICAN GIGOLO, CAT PEOPLE, MISHIMA). Scott (in a performance that ranges… (more)