Saturday, 3 May 2014

REVIEW - HATESHIP LOVESHIP (LIZA JOHNSON)


This has Harvey's dirty fingerprints all over it. There's a bone fide gem of a movie in Hateship Loveship, a thoroughly lovable one buried beneath all the hateful crap that post-production hacks have applied to it. It shines through in intelligent shot compositions, nuanced cinematography in shades of olive green and tan, expressive yet subtle visual storytelling that people claim women aren't capable of, yet Liza Johnson so obviously is. She, actor Kristen Wiig and source writer Alice Munro have fashioned a simple but insightful portrait of two women, each struggling to comprehend their own place in life before their courses converge. In scenes both beautifully quiet and quietly beautiful, we see both the person they presume each other to be, and the person they truly are, but are stymied in expressing for any number of unspoken, underlying issues. A sweet, perceptive and wonderfully patient film, sensitively crafted by Johnson, whose touch for character development transcends all of the damage done to her film by careless post-production mismanagement. And so Hateship Loveship becomes not sweet but saccharine, not perceptive but callous, not patient but bizarrely hurried, racing through swathes of important narrative with a mind to re-fashioning this portrait. There is so much that editing can achieve, such as ruining a perfectly good film, but so much that it cannot. The bulk of this film can be transformed into a wannabe-comedy about a hapless sad sack, but obvious fragments still remain of the multi-stranded, emotionally-aware film that once existed. A sickly guitar-led score can drone over otherwise understated footage and render it nasty and asinine, but it can't detract from the talent that is so plainly on display in Wiig's disarming, touching performance. Crass ADR can shave minutes off of scenes and simplify them drastically, but it can't replace all of the dialogue. But all of that can do enough damage to just about bury Liza Johnson's lovely second film, just as the Weinsteins buried this in one theatre in the US, and on ignominious VOD. An inglorious shame.