(2005)2.5Derek ArmstrongSorry, Haters is an unusually ambitious attempt to grapple with the jumbled emotions of post-9/11 New York, taking some pretty big risks in its presentation -- as well as liberties with its logic. It's this last part that's fatally problematic. Any applause for writer-director Jeff Stanzler's intentions will dissipate once a viewer reaches the other end of the running time. Sorry, Haters goes from intriguingly unbalanced to downright unbelievable in what Stanzler chooses to do with Robin Wright Penn's character. Penn deserves kudos for her usual willingness to play someone unsafe, or in this case, utterly unlikable. However, there's a difference between a character whose motivations are sinister, but at least based in a psychological reality, and a character who makes havoc simply for the sake of making it, which is one way to describe Penn's Phoebe. Without giving away any details -- though Sorry, Haters doesn't deserve such a gag order based on its merits -- suffice it to say there's ample evidence that Phoebe is, plain and simple, a sociopath. Trying to explain her actions, or fit them into any kind of intelligible theme, is almost impossible, and that robs the film of most of its meaning. Abdel Kechiche submits a good performance to match Penn, but his effectiveness is also diminished by the unlikely evolution the script forces on his character. Out of this mess, Stanzler emerges as no better than a deluded provocateur, not the brave pusher of hot buttons he wanted to be. It's a shame, because a creepy first half sets an excellent tone, asking questions that seem like they'll have discomfiting answers. But as it spirals off into ridiculousness, the film doesn't merely owe its audience those answers -- Sorry, Haters owes them an apology, indeed.
An embittered television executive working for a hip-hop-oriented music channel finds her fate intricately tied with a New York City taxi driver after hailing his cab for questionable purposes in director Jeff Stanzler's intimate look at the tenuous relationship between Caucasians and Muslims in post-9/11 America. Phoebe (Robin Wright Penn) hates her job at Q Dog TV, and focuses the brunt of her disgruntled rage squarely on co-worker Phyllis MacIntyre (Sandra Oh). During the course of their extended journey to Phoebe's suburban destination, troubled Muslim cab driver Ashade (Abdel Kechiche) confides to his passenger that the arrest of his brother on charges of suspected terrorism has thrown his family into chaos. Though the increasingly unstable Phoebe listens diligently to Ashade's tragic confession -- even offering to help the distraught Syrian chemist-turned-cab driver's struggling family -- it's only after arriving at his fare's destination that Ashade truly begins to grasp Phoebe's true nature and realize that he has made a grave mistake in placing his trust in her.