'I Love You, Hater' review: Hard to love, harder to hate
There is one scene in Giselle Andres’ I Love You, Hater that makes the film almost worth all of its very many problems.
Noteworthy for several reasons
Zoey (Julia Barretto), clearly ecstatic, is in front of Joko (Joshua Garcia), her rival of several weeks for the position of assistant to media magnate Sasha (Kris Aquino).
She tells Joko of a sacrifice (which involved her lying to Sasha) and it weirdly does not result in the loving gratitude that she might have expected. Joko, dumbfounded because he knows how Zoey values honesty, begs her to tell him why she did it.
Out of perhaps the whole absurdity and foolishness of her feelings, Zoey starts to cry and confesses of her love for him despite knowing that he will never love her back because he is gay.
However, Joko is not gay.
He has been pretending to be gay just to have a stab at the lucrative job under Sasha. He also loves Zoey, and admits it, along with the fact that his being gay is all a ruse. Zoey doesn’t take it lightly, and her tears of self-pity quickly turn into tears of rage because of the betrayal of someone she has gotten to love to the point of embarrassing herself.
The scene is noteworthy for several reasons.
The scene allows Barretto, who has proven herself in previous films as a very fine actress, an opportunity to churn out a nuanced performance, one that is understanding of the subtle differences of various emotions conveyed by the act of crying.
Barretto’s performance however wouldn’t have been possible if the narrative, which is unabashedly convoluted right from the get go, didn’t unspool so relentlessly to reach such an emotionally affecting and surprisingly authentic confrontation between the two stunted lovers.
Creature of formula
At least at that point of the movie, it works.
It almost seemed that its roundabout way of tackling the value of truth within the realm of relationships, profession, and even sexuality makes complete sense. It almost seemed that some of its brushes with insensitivity when it comes to portraying gays or their manners of coming out had some more reason to them than an attempt at amplifying either drama or comedy, which the film commits to quite feverously. The film is funny when it needs to be. It shifts to romance or drama with ease and mechanicality.
In fact, it almost seemed that the film was making a real statement and not just some palatable moralism that has always been tied to these commercial love stories.
There certainly are surprising loose ends that provoke. Sideplots, like the ones involving Zoey’s estranged father or Sasha’s ex-husband, are never granted the resolutions expected from rom-coms that ambition happy endings for everyone.
This can be interpreted to point to a more progressive direction for the genre considering that the repercussions of the loose ends are to portray women realizing their worth despite the neglect of the men in their lives.
I Love You, Hater is still a creature of formula.
It avoids cutting deeper than it should. It dwells on easily recognizable dilemmas and all the loud feelings that come with them. This isn’t bad at all, but its being simplistic does lead to several problems, most especially if its conceit is grounded on issues that require a little bit more sensitivity.
Oozing with charm
With all its problems, I Love You, Hater is a film that is hard to love.
Thankfully, it is also oozing with charm, making it a film that is harder to hate. – Rappler.com
Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas' Tirad Pass.
Since then, he's been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema