A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Hateship Loveship is a slow-moving drama (based on a short story by Alice Munro) about a sheltered and naive woman who, upon becoming the victim of a cruel trick, goes down a path that changes many lives -- including her own. Kristen Wiig moves away from her comic background to star as Johanna, an affection-starved woman who ends up throwing herself at a very surprised man. Expect several sex scenes (no sensitive body parts are shown, but there's clear thrusting/movement), a glimpse of a naked male behind, frequent drinking (including by teens), and some drug use (cocaine). Swearing isn't constant but includes "s--," "f--k," and more.
What's the story?
Johanna (Kristen Wiig) has been a caretaker all her life, starting in her teens. When the elderly woman she's worked for dies at the start of HATESHIP LOVESHIP, Johanna is forced to venture out into the world to find work as a housekeeper. Sheltered and naive, she's an easy target for Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld), the teen girl who's her new charge, and is easily deceived into thinking that Sabitha's father, Ken (Guy Pearce), is falling in love with her. Unnerved by the new emotions building inside her, Johanna makes a decision that not only shakes up her world, but others', too. Nick Nolte co-stars as the gruff widower who hires Johanna.
Is it any good?
Wiig is clearly talented, but Johanna feels artificially muzzled and contained because Wiig can't quite seem to get a handle on the role. This certainly isn't the first time that a comedian has taken on a meaty, dramatic role; plenty do so and succeed with both grace and surprising depth. But Wiig falls short in Hateship Loveship, which demands an actress capable of evoking complicated, ambivalent feelings without relying on actorly cues. Johanna is a quiet but explosive role; that quietness should have been communicated in a delicate but potent way, and Wiig doesn't give Johanna the delicacy she deserves. You can feel the effort emanating from her.
That said, Hateship Loveship isn't forgettable, either. Steinfeld and Nolte are excellent, and the story -- while yet another variation on woman-rescues-wayward-man-just-by-loving-him -- is interesting. It's just hard not to wish for a more nuanced portrayal of relationships.
Talk to your kids about ...
What message(s) do you think the filmmakers intend for audiences to take from the movie? What themes do you see rising to the top? What is it saying about relationships?
Why do you think comedic actors/actresses like Wiig are drawn to dramatic roles? Do you like it when stars explore new ground, or do you prefer it when they stick to what they're known for?
- In theaters: April 11, 2014
- On DVD or streaming: August 12, 2014
- Cast: Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Nick Nolte, Christine Lahti, Jennifer Jason Leigh
- Director: Liza Johnson
- Studio: IFC Entertainment
- Genre: Drama
- Topics: Book characters
- Run time: 102 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: drug use, some sexuality and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.