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With a PhD in Chemistry, devout and bearded, Syria-born Ashade Mouhana (Abdellatif Kechiche) drives a cab in New York, and must accept financial assistance from friends who attend the Islamic Council of America so that he can pay a lawyer to get his Canadian brother, who is being detained as a '2nd tier suspect', released. He also has to look after his toddler nephew and French-speaking Caucasian sister-in-law, Eloise (Elodie Bouchez), and is fearful that his brother may be tortured in Syria. One night he befriends a passenger, who identifies herself as Phyllis (Robin Wright Penn), claims she is Head of Programming of Q-Dog Television, sympathizes and offers to assist him get his brother released. He gets a shock when she asks him to carry out an act of terrorism as retribution against America. He walks away, and subsequently finds out that she has stolen his money. Shortly thereafter, his cab is confiscated by secret agents, and Eloise is held for questioning. Vengeful, he shaves off...Written by
Here's a film I knew very little, if anything, about going in, found utterly compelling in the beginning, thoroughly intriguing in the middle and completely frustrated at the end as the story veered off so wildly in the third act.
That's not to say "Sorry, Haters" isn't a fascinating movie to see.
The main reason to see this is Robin Wright Penn's mesmerizing performance as a woman - Phoebe - who just keeps twisting and turning our expectations of who she is. Watching Phoebe come undone while Penn keeps her completely rational makes the character that more frightening.
Abdel Kechiche - as Ashade, a Syrian chemist working as a New York cab driver and trying to get his brother out of Gitmo - is so believable in the role. You don't doubt his anger and frustration at what's going on and you can understand why he he is who he is.
Writer-director Jeff Stanzler provides an interesting landscape of post-9/11 America. He also provides one of the scariest rationalizations a character can provide for that horrible day.
Stanzler doesn't let us get all that comfortable with the story and throws in a doozy of a twist in the middle. We never see it coming and it just makes the film that much stronger and powerful.
But then comes the denouement.
It's almost as if Stanzler just had no idea how to end his film given the circumstances in which he had placed his two leading characters. So he devises this rather ludicrous change that takes the story completely off-kilter. He just keeps going and you can sense the story going off-track. But Stanzler doesn't seem to mind and, ultimately, the film veers off course and winds up with an utterly preposterous and unconvincing finale. I was never looking for something happy; I just wanted something that I could believe.
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