Sorry, Haters (review)
There’s an edgy, itchy, slightly out-of-skew vibe to writer/director Jeff Stanzler’s Sorry, Haters that perfectly captures the sensation of being off-balance that all New Yorkers have been stumbling through life with since 9/11. It lives in the background and rears its ugly head once in a while — perhaps you catch a glimpse of that hole in the skyline that didn’t used to be there, or a cavalcade of NYPD squad cars zoom by, lights flashing and sirens wailing, and you’re suddenly gripped with the certainty that Something Big has happened. Stanzler, paradoxically, manages to dance around that feeling and confront it head-on — his psychological suspense drama is all about how New Yorkers are dealing with the wake of 9/11, but the replication of that off-kilter feeling comes all in the structure of the story and the heightened sense of the absurd that it creates. Sure, there is something definitely odd in how TV exec Phoebe (Robin Wright Penn: Nine Lives) latches onto the tale of woe she hears from a cab driver one night: Ashade (Abdel Kechiche, who as a filmmaker directed L’Esquive), a Syrian Muslim immigrant, isn’t just a casual victim of everyday bigotry, but his brother has been caught up in a PATRIOT Act nightmare of deportation, imprisonment, and torture. The unpleasant aggression with which Phoebe pursues justice on Ashade’s behalf is itself discomfiting — it’s almost a caricature of that impulse to want to do something, anything, in the face of such systematic dismantling of the underpinnings of America, as if to highlight the preposterousness of the world we’re inhabiting today. But that’s only the beginning of the tale — by its end, ideas about what constitutes terrorism, who perpetrates it, and how it affects us all have been burst wide open. Don’t take it as “real” — this isn’t straight-up analysis. Accept it as metaphor for the screwed-up state of the world, as parable about how terrorism touches us all.