Cinema Review: Hateship Loveship | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Saturday, March 6th, 2021  

Hateship Loveship

Studio: IFC Films
Directed by Liza Johnson

Apr 10, 2014 Web Exclusive
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Johanna Parry (Kristen Wiig, in her first serious lead role) has spent her life as a live-in housekeeper. After her latest client dies, she begins working for Mr. McCauley and his granddaughter, Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld). Sabitha’s absentee father, Ken (Guy Pearce), writes Johanna a thank-you note to show his appreciation for her caring for his daughter. The shy Johanna, who has never cultivated an existence outside of her clients’ homes, mistakes Ken’s kindness for affection and eagerly writes him back. Sabitha and her friend intercept Johanna’s response, and reply as Ken. Duped by the maliciously false epistolary professions of love, Johanna shows up at Ken’s doorstep, believing he has asked her to help him open a roadside motel.

Hateship Loveship is by no means a bad film, but it’s an unfortunately easy one. For as much a hermit as Johanna is, she wastes no time in absconding from the McCauley residence to pursue a life with Ken. Sure, she thinks it’s mutual, but the collapse of the fantasy, as soon as she realizes it is just that, never happens. Johanna stays, and though we spend the entire time waiting for the crushing hurt that always seems around the corner, the script begs off. Everything is too easy. Ken’s substance abuse is a mild problem at best; the lies perpetrated by Sabitha and her friend never quite pack the punch they should. Wiig’s performance is suited well-enough to the story, but it is hard to disassociate the quiet Johanna from the freaky wallflower characters she so often played on Saturday Night Live. Pearce is as effective as he can be in the role, but his character’s biggest emotional moments fail to pay off completely. It’s not clear if the shortcomings are in the script or the direction, but the film does itself a disservice by being too understated and, oddly, too positive.

Author rating: 3.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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