Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sorry, Haters (2005)

 Who's in there?Gripping, manic, cringe inducing.

When Philly (Robin Wright Penn) gets into Ashade's (Abdel Kechiche) taxi, he has just been ticketed.He's also troubled by lusty thoughts about his sister-in-law, who he's looking after on behalf of his jailed brother. By the end of the evening, his fare has met Ashade's sister-in-law, Eloise (Élodie Bouchez), told them the story of her failed marriage and has signed on to help them get a lawyer to plead the case of Ashade's brother/Eloise's husband who has been wrongly arrested and deported to Syria, where they fear he is being tortured. Maybe it was the desperation or the powerlessness Ashade felt. Perhaps it was that impossible piece of hope--the one you never quite relinquish--the last morsel, but with evident signs, Philly turns his life into a mine field. When he realizes she is disturbed, she's already lured him into her first sociopathic trap. When he learns just how much further she's screwed him, Ashade does some table turning and learns that her motivations only get more sinister.

Sorry, Haters presents a unique twist on 9/11. And, instead of vilifying an Arab, Ashade is driven and hard-working. (Not something often depicted in American cinema.) Wright Penn's Phoebe is dark, moody and unstable. She is unflappable as a complex woman full of hate and emptiness. Wright Penn knows how to embody these characters and twist them up. Her sullen face, her moments of vulnerability and her intense cruelty are testament to her incredible ability to become these characters. It's unnerving watching her create the lair that Ashade so easily stumbles into...several times (something I didn't quite believe). I was unprepared for the final scene. I wasn't buying that things would end with twinkles bouncing off the teeth, but to say it was unsettling is not enough. A singular movie with phenomenal acting. Some things seem purposefully left opaque. What's it really about? A definite must-see.

Writer/Director: Jeff Stanzler

Country: US

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Run time: 82 minutes

Scale: 4

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