Actors: Kristin Wiig, Guy Pearce
Director: Liza Johnson
Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Widescreen, NTSC
Number of discs: 1
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: MPI HOME VIDEO
DVD Release Date: August 12, 2014
Run Time: 102 minutes
In hindsight, it is fairly easy to understand why “Twilight” was a successful franchise among teenage girls, even before the novels were made into films with heartthrob young actors in the roles. The narrative involves a plain looking girl who single-handedly wrangles the unbridled ‘beastly’ qualities of the two ‘teens’ fighting over her affection. It is a wish-fulfillment fantasy even without the elements of vampires and werewolves. I have never read the short story by Alice Munro that is the inspiration for the awkwardly titled Hateship Loveship, but the film seems a middle-aged woman’s wish fulfillment along similar lines as those in Twilight. Instead of supernatural teenage boys, the female protagonist of this film is able to tame a wild drug addict to be her domesticated partner.
The prevalent theme of the protagonist female desiring the male partner that is a work in progress may come off as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for some lonely middle-aged women, but the only thing elevating this narrative beyond this contrived love story is an enigmatic dramatic performance by Kristen Wiig. Unfortunately, despite a minimalist narrative, there is hardly any insight into the character that dominates a majority of the film. The result is a film which provides a predictable narrative with questionable themes and characters that are difficult to relate to.
Wiig stars as Johanna, a plain middle-aged housekeeper hired to help care for a man named Mr. McCauley (Nick Nolte) and his granddaughter, Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld), after the death of her former employer. This seems like a good fit, until a cruel prank from Sabitha and her superficial friend leads Johanna to imagine a different life. Forging emails from her drug addict father (Guy Pearce), Sabitha tricks Johanna into believing that there are possibilities for a relationship and a family of her own. All she has to do is make the fake relationship real, get rid of all his bad habits, and Johanna can have a life of her own.
Despite an inevitable happy ending looming in the distance for the entire film, the saving grace of the film’s drama is the slow progress Johanna actually has in changing the man she is tricked into a relationship with. While most attention has gone to Wiig’s understated performance, credit should also be given to Pearce for his performance as a deeply flawed father and widow. Performances all around helped save the film from its contrivances and clichés.
The DVD special features include only a trailer.
Entertainment Value: 7/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 6.5/10
Historical Significance: 4.5/10