Schrader tackled Middle American dilemmas with eloquence in the radical Blue Collar, and he had touched on incest and child sexuality in scripts like Obsession and Taxi Driver. Hardcore stakes out similar ground: the pre-teen daughter of Midwesterner Scott disappears from a Calvinist youth camp, then surfaces in a porn film. And Scott gets things off to a titanic start as we voyeuristically watch his agony when confronted with a porn movie of his own daughter. But credibility wavers when he impersonates a seedy producer with suspicious ease, then forms a sentimental detective partnership with a whore (Hubley). The action meanders around to a hackneyed end, and because Hardcore is softcore, it doesn't convincingly convey that climate of self-hatred which pervades the sexual ghetto. It's a reminder, though, that the culturally respected cinema demands far gorier, more inventive and more technically accomplished depictions of sexual violence than the flesh flicks.
Cast and crew
George C Scott