Hateship Loveship (2013)
Written by Mark Poirier (screenplay) and Alice Munro (short story)
Directed by Liza Johnson
“I have what I want.” ~ Johanna Parry
About the movie:
Hateship, Loveship, directed by Liza Johnson, and written by Mark Poirier, is based on the 2001 short story “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” by Alice Munro. The film stars Kristen Wiig, Hailee Steinfeld, Guy Pearce, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Nick Nolte and Christine Lahti.
It premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival on September 6, 2013. On March 11, 2014, the official trailer for the film was released.
Johanna has been working for a woman, in her home, since she was a teenager. She’s been primarily house bound, and ends up taking care of the woman until the woman’s death. She is sent to a new job working as a housekeeper for Mr. McCauley, and older man who needs help keeping house, and keeping watch of his adolescent granddaughter, Sabitha, who has lived with him since his daughter’s accidental death and his son-in-law’s incarceration.
Ken, Sabitha’s father, now out of jail and attempting to get his life together, albeit haphazardly, is visiting his daughter when Johanna arrives. As a gesture of kindness, and from what seems like goodwill, and hope for his daughter’s semi-caretaker, he leaves a brief note for Johanna with Sabitha.
Johanna has limited experience with social interactions and seems to have little, to no, friends or family of her own. She is touched by the gesture and immediately pens a letter back to Ken, in response. The letter is intercepted by Sabitha, and her best friend Edith, and, at Edith’s suggestion they write a fake response that includes a fake email. They continue to pose as Ken, corresponding with Johanna in a way that develops into a relationship. Sabitha gets spooked about it and feels badly, and backs down, but Edith keeps on.
Johanna falls in love. She takes “Ken” up on his offer to come to Chicago, and the truth is revealed.
What happens next was unexpected, but real, all at the same time. Both Johanna and Ken are broken individuals who crave family, home, stability and love. Though there were times when Johanna’s homemaking, cleaning, and rather 1950’s behavior made me cringe, I came to recognize that this was who her character was, and it didn’t make it anti-feminist, or negative, just honest.
The perspective in this film, and the direction, was intimate, almost uncomfortably so at times, enough where I’d cover my eyes and peak through my fingers. But, I mean that in a good way. It was just so vulnerable, especially in regards to Johanna, who was brilliantly portrayed by Kristen Wiig. I felt so much for her, and was right there with her emotionally through the story.
Ken, too, was perfectly portrayed by Guy Pierce (nice to see him in something again). He was a mess, genuinely, but he was likable and mostly honest. I could tell, the entire time, that he was trying and hurting, and wanting so much more.
I really rooted for Ken and Johanna, as well as for Sabitha, and even for the Grandfather, Mr. McCauley.
I streamed this off of Netflix, and highly recommend you do the same. I’d love to hear what you think of it, too.
Hateship Loveship Trailer