Sorry, Haters

Film
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL But which one---Wright Penn, left, or Kechiche?
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL But which one—Wright Penn, left, or Kechiche?

Time Out says

Good luck getting that title out of your skull. In the universe of Jeff Stanzler’s scuzzy-looking indie, it’s the name of a (purely incidental) Cribs-like TV show in which celebs open their homes to the cameras. Should you actually waste your time seeing this phonily provocative film, however, the name will ring more like a defensive nonapology from the writer-director himself. Don’t relinquish your hate so easily.

As to the movie’s real subject, who knows how long it will take New York filmmakers to find just the right way to address post--September 11 trauma? Suffice it to say, Sorry, Haters isn’t it. Of its two central characters, one is recognizable enough: Ashade (Kechiche, director of 2003’s L’Esquive), an educated NYC taxi driver consumed with the fate of his extradited brother facing torture back home in Syria. But the other character, Phoebe (a reliably histrionic Wright Penn), is a construction from beyond the realm of outer preposterousness. Ostensibly a high-strung cable exec who hails Ashade’s cab, she quickly morphs into a cell-phone-wielding ball-buster on his behalf; then a racist revengemonger—and really, there’s so much more.

Sorry, Haters has a pair of major surprises that its handlers want me to keep secret. But as to its implication that terrorism derives not from hateful extremists but frustrated white chicks having bad hair days, one can only gape in amazement. Sorry, Sorry, Haters, but the time will never be right to turn 9/11 into grist for a new Fatal Attraction. (Now playing; IFC Center.)—Joshua Rothkopf

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