Hateship Loveship (2013) :: MOTD

Guy Pearce and Kristen Wiig in Hateship Loveship (2013).

Hateship Loveship (2013)
Written by Mark Poirier (screenplay) and Alice Munro (short story)
Directed by Liza Johnson

“I have what I want.” ~ Johanna Parry

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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.

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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.

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Johanna falls in love. She takes “Ken” up on his offer to come to Chicago, and the truth is revealed.

My thoughts:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

4 comments

  1. I’m in agreeance that Kristen’s character isn’t anti-feminist in her behavior. For one thing, she can choose what she wants to do (to the degree that our patriarchal society allows, sadly, of course) and she makes that choice. We saw that she’s clearly more comfortable in a caretaker role and despite whatever reasons that may be it is who she came to be as an adult and how we meet her. She’s taken advantage of and tricked but she sees the larger picture and maintains an odd dignity in the face of that. I see a quiet empowerment in what she does. She’s gently tenacious and stubbornly hopeful and that wrapped up in the kind of warmth she gives off, though weird seeming at times, helped her to get what she refused to give up on.

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    1. Oh yay! I’m excited that you watched it, too! I really enjoyed it, and she did have such a dignity, though yes, odd, but beautiful, too. She felt heroic to me, and vulnerable, and brave. I’m not sure I could have stayed, even for one night, if I found out those emails weren’t from him – though I wanted her to stay.

      I really enjoyed Guy Pearce in this – though this was really Kristen’s movie.

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      1. I cringed as well when she was cleaning and nursing him back to health just because I found it to be both disgusting and overwhelming and I’m in a point in my life where I don’t want to do those things for somebody I’m in relationship with and yet her caring for him and her old fashioned way, even if indirectly, helped repair several relationships and bring a family back together while creating a new one. That’s really beautiful.
        I liked Guy Pearce in it too especially because it wasn’t a glamorous role at all or very cool or Western or action-packed like some of the other stuff he’s done.
        You wrote a pretty perfect for review of this movie btw.

        Speaking of Guy Pearce another recent movie of his that I loved is Breath In. I saw it on Netflix so hopefully it’s still available there if you haven’t caught it but would like to watch. I don’t think it got much critical support (I remember a lower RT’s score) but I enjoyed it. Felicity Jones plays a foreign exchange student and Guy is in her host family & a music teacher at her high school. https://youtu.be/IjqiVJ-4e6I

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