I didn’t love or hate Lovers of Hate, but what I will say is I’m surprised it got over 90% favorable reviews from critics on the Rotten Tomatoes site. Then again, it got only a 50% favorable response from the public on the same site. This is one of those occasions when my reaction is much closer to that of the public than that of the critics.
I thought it was a technically competent indie (more technically competent than most indies), and that it raised and explored potentially interesting and important relationship issues (no more effectively than the average indie, and maybe slightly below the average). It’s a dramedy, with more drama than comedy—or at least the elements I’m assuming are intended comedically are never more than slightly amusing. It held my interest modestly well for the first half or so, and then my interest gradually faded after that. All told, I’d probably rank this a little below the average indie I’ve seen in my life, so certainly of some value, but as I say, not something I loved or hated.
Misanthropic Rudy has just been dumped by his live-in girlfriend Diana, leaving him temporarily with no place to live, which reduces him to sleeping in his car and “showering” at self-serve car washes.
Which is not plausible, by the way. You never get the feeling he is completely broke—he owns a car, for one thing—so presumably he could stay at a motel, but even assuming he has little or no money, you don’t have to be very resourceful to find better options to bathe than a car wash in broad daylight. Truck stops often have full showers. If he has a gym membership he could shower there. ($10 a month at Planet Fitness.) He could even wash somewhat effectively in a conventional public restroom.
This is one of several implausible elements to the story. A later example is someone lying in the backseat of a car and being unseen by the driver on a long drive that included putting luggage in the car.
Anyway, he’s still in love with Diana, but Diana seems pretty adamant that there’s no hope of their getting back together.
Meanwhile, Rudy’s younger brother Paul arrives in town for a brief stop on a book tour. Paul is a successful author of fantasy children’s books, the basic storyline of which it turns out Rudy created back when they were kids and he was trying to inspire and cheer up his bullied, nerdy little brother.
Since then, though, their relationship has degenerated into a sibling rivalry fueled by Rudy’s resentment that his brother has achieved success while he has not come close.
Rudy is something of a writer himself, or at least a wannabe writer, but his intended first novel Lovers of Hate—pretty much no details of which are ever given in the movie—has never made it much past the idea stage after several years of his supposedly working on it.
Paul and Diana, we find out, have always had a bit of a thing for each other, and now that Rudy and Diana are broken up, Paul and Diana decide, without telling Rudy, to spend a weekend at a fancy vacation home in Park City, Utah that Paul has temporary use of. Unbeknownst to them, Rudy has gone to the same home and let himself in to surprise Paul. Of course, he’s the one who gets the big surprise when Paul and Diana arrive in an amorous mood. He sees them, but they don’t see him. He lurks in the house trying to figure out how to get out without being discovered, or barring that, whether and how to confront them.
Much of the film takes place with the three of them in that house. This is where some of the interesting relationship stuff is explored a bit. To Rudy, Paul, or both, does Diana represent more of a prize in the sibling rivalry than a full person that they have genuine feelings for? Does their status as brothers interest Diana at some level, to where she herself is using Paul in some twisted way to fulfill a fantasy or strike back at Rudy? Even though Rudy and Diana are broken up, do or should Paul and/or Diana feel guilty about their being together, like they’re betraying or cheating on Rudy? Is Rudy being considerate and trying to spare everyone embarrassment by not announcing his presence and looking for a way to leave the house undiscovered, or is he being deceptive and spying on them, and making it worse the longer he goes without letting them know he is there?
So there’s plenty to think about, but like I say, I don’t think the film gets very deep with these topics. There’s a little bit of (slightly comic) suspense as to when and if Rudy will be discovered hiding in the house, but both in terms of action and in terms of psychological and philosophical explorations there’s little intensity to this movie. Other viewers may well disagree—clearly the majority of critics did—but it feels thin to me.
Lovers of Hate is OK, but it can safely be skipped.