Hateship Loveship

2014-07-04 11:04
What it's about:

Johanna is a profoundly shy, shabby housekeeper hired to care for Mr. McCauley and his granddaughter, Sabitha. Despite her outgoing nature, Sabitha carries wounds from the death of her mother years before, while her father, Ken, is a hapless recovering drug addict with a certain rugged charm. In an act of mean-spirited rebellion, Sabitha fosters a pseudo-relationship between Johanna and Ken through a series of forged emails, never dreaming of the potential harm. However, Johanna is not a demure cut-out, but rather a woman for whom the phrase “still waters run deep” could have been coined, and the young girl’s cruel prank provokes Johanna to indulge in something long missing from her life: the dream of a future and a home of her own.

What we thought:

Kristen Wiig flexes her serious acting muscle in this drama based on the short story Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage by Alice Munro.

The movie opens with Johanna (Kristen Wiig) discovering that the elderly woman she has been taking care of has died. Thrown into a world that she knows nothing about the shy recluse manages to find another job in no time. She is employed by Mr. McCauley ( Nick Nolte) as a housekeeper and a caregiver for his teenage granddaughter Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld), whom he has legal custody of. Sabitha’s mom died in an accident caused by her junkie father Ken (Guy Pearce), who lives in a rundown  motel in Chicago that he is trying to renovate and get up and running. Mr McCauley still hasn’t forgiven Ken and they have some issues to resolve.

Sabitha and her mean girl bestie Edith (Sammi Gayle) catfish Johanna. Posing as Ken they send her love letters. Johanna naive to the ways of the world falls for this and packs up her bags and moves to Chicago to pursue a relationship with Ken. It’s a cringeworthy scene when Johanna shows up with her bags at Ken’s place. He of course knows nothing about it but he lets her stick around. And so they develop a tentative romance. In the end Johanna’s determination manages to save the troubled Ken getting him on the straight and narrow.

This is Wiig like you’ve never seen her before: a dull, drab, caregiver who has little life experience. Throughout the film she seems to only have one facial expression; a wide eyed empty stare as if she is never really present. As a viewer this does get a bit tedious to watch. There are times where you just wish she would show emotion and even the more ‘dramatic’ scenes are filled with a clipped, flat, lifeless tone.

Most of the plot surrounds Johanna and her relationship with Ken. There are some other sub plots that don’t really develop leaving you with questions. Sabitha’s grandfather starts a romance with the local busybody bank teller. Sabitha’s mean friend Edith fades into the background. We are also briefly introduced to Ken’s fellow junkie girlfriend Chloe (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

Just when you think the story is going somewhere in typical Hollywood style the film ties up way too neatly.  There is no climatic arc to the film, it just chugs along towards the end. All in all it is a drab, dull story that ends too good to be true devoid of all the messy bits that make up a really good story. Rather catch this one on DVD.

A dull, drab story that is devoid of all the messy bits that make for a really good story.
Read more on:    guy pearce  |  kristen wiig  |  movies

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