Kristen Wiig Can't Save Too-Nice Hateship Loveship
Critics mostly sour on movie, despite Wiig's mostly successful dramatic turn
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2014 2:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – Kristen Wiig: Serious dramatic actor? The funny lady takes a stab at it in Hateship Loveship, an adaptation of an Alice Munro short story that gets a limited release today. For the most part, critics think Wiig does a good job, but they aren't especially fond of the movie as a whole. Here's what they're saying:

  • "No one ever gets too angry in Hateship Loveship, even though it's a movie full of lies, cheating, a couple of robberies and some skanky drug use," marvels Stephen Whitty at the Star-Ledger. The stellar cast does its best, but the script is just too darn nice, and their characters "are literally too good to be true."
  • Wiig's performance is "toned down to nearly mute volume—and it's painful to watch," writes Sara Stewart at the New York Post. "Even Johanna’s eventual version of happiness is so servile and tenuous, it reads more as a cringe-worthy cautionary tale. Personally, I hope this is Wiig’s last sad-sack turn; it seems a waste to ignore those comic chops."
  • Dana Stevens at Slate, on the other hand, calls Wiig's casting a "revelation," saying she "effortlessly makes the shift from comedian to straight dramatic actress." Some scenes require "the skills of someone who can play both leading lady and clown. As this movie makes clearer than it’s been before, we have an actor like that in Kristen Wiig."
  • "The filmmaking feels indecisive: Scenes trail off; emotions are blurred; the narrative organization seems slack and haphazard," complains AO Scott at the New York Times. But the cast is good, and Liza Johnson "has clearly directed them with tact and generosity." The film turns Munro's "taciturn masterpiece into an absorbing, messy, modest story of damaged relationships."