Ellen Page has left a big impression in the first half of this year. First, the controversial Hard Candy, in which she plays a young girl who gets back at the much older man who seduced her on the web, left audiences divided in camps either loving or hating it. Then came her role as Kitty Pride in the box office behemoth X-Men: The Last Stand, which made her known to a big audience. In both movies, Ellen was one of the highlights, critics showering her with praise, with one critic even saying about Hard Candy that "there's really only one compelling reason to see this film and that is the extraordinary performance by young Ellen Page, a breakout if ever there was one." (Laura Clifford from Reeling Reviews) And for Page, this is clearly only the beginning.
It was already clear from the start that Ellen Page was an actress to watch. For her very first role, a part she played in TV-movie Pit Pony, she received a Young Artist and Gemini Nomination for Best Role. Awards and nominations kept on coming after that, and she slowly started building a higher profile for herself. TV-shows were followed by her first parts in small movies, and this all led to her being cast in the lead role in Hard Candy. In it, the then 17 year old Page played a young girl who meets a thirty year old man in a chatroom. They decide to meet in real life, and after an initial live-chat in a coffee room, the man takes Ellen home with him. There, it slowly becomes clear to her what the man's intentions are, but it takes some time for the man to understand that he has picked up the wrong girl. Page played her role with a fierce intensity that made people start questioning who they should root for, which, along with the subject matter of the movie, led to a lot of controversy. Page put some extra fuel on the fire when, in an interview, she encouraged kids to sneak into the R-Rated film so they could be aware of it's issues, and to be more aware of the fact that there are some sick people roaming the internet.
X-Men: The Last Stand was a much lighter role for her, giving the general public a chance to get to know her. Even though her part is one of the smaller ones in the picture, she was still able to establish a presence and leave an impression on the superhero fanboys who originally only came to see Wolverine rip up bad guys. Don't expect to pop up in too many of these popcorn movies though. "I don't really want to do the Hollywood thing," she said in an interview. "I think you ought to try to say something with your movies."
Which is probably why she signed up for the role of Sylvia Likens in upcoming true-story-turned-into-a-movie An American Crime. It's about a housewife who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her home in the sixties. The girl was tortured both mentally and physically by not just the woman, but also the woman's family and their friends, and died from her wounds after three horrible months. After this, you can see Page in The Tracey Fragments, based on the book by Maureen Medved, about a girl who is sitting naked in the back of a bus, only covered by a shower curtain, and who is telling the story of her life. She tells of her hopes and fantasies, as well as the grief and horror of a difficult upbringing.
As you can see, Page does not shy away from tough roles, and if she continues down this path, great things could lie in her future. Maybe a big Hollywood movie will come along one day in which she is allowed to portray the same type of role as she does in her smaller movies. It will also be interesting to see her in something more lightweight one day, though she will probably (luckily) stay away from the type of teenage/family movies lots of other young actresses earn their living in...