Lovers of Hate: Fraternal Rivalry as Heartbreaking Slapstick Thriller

02/09/2011 4:00 AM |

Lovers of Hate
Directed by Brian Poyser

Lovers of Hate, a cleverly structured and perfectly plotted comic-bummer, takes familiar types and jostles them into unfamiliar places. The movie borrows the old fraternal-foils formula: Rudy (Chris Doubek) can’t hold a job, lives out his car, showers in a car-wash and pines for (and perpetually pesters) his ex-wife, Diana (Heather Kafka). His little brother Paul (Alex Karpovsky, slimy and supercilious as ever) is the successful author of a popular fantasy series for children for which Rudy claims some credit. When Paul goes to Park City to work on a new book—is there a Sundance joke I’m not getting?—Rudy follows uninvited to discover his brother is having a fling with Diana.

This queasy love triangle tale tightens like a noir with a heartbreaking slapstick edge, as simmering professional and romantic jealousies work their way to the fore. “Rift War—this was it,” speaks an audiobook recording of Paul’s latest YA novel, as Rudy drives to Utah. “It could no longer be avoided.” And how: Rudy declines to make himself known in his brother’s sprawling borrowed house, a breakneck decision that leaves him unable to escape without tripping an alarm: he becomes under house arrest, forced to watch and listen to his unawares brother seduce and bed the woman he still loves.

He’s like a ghost who both haunts and is haunted, like one of the “invisible kids” from Paul’s books, like a Morel projection. But soon he decides to take revenge, becoming more of a Shakespearean prankster, driving a wedge between the cuckolding conspirators like an unseen force of righteousness—leaving, for example, an unflushed shit that stimulates a spat—while simultaneously forced to bear witness to their cruel betrayal. It’s a hell of a second act—mischievous, mean, funny, pathological, sad. And brilliant.

Opens February 11