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Completely falls apart in the third act
anhedonia30 April 2006
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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Masterful performance
wrlang11 August 2006
With semi-well known actors giving powerful performances, this was a surprisingly good movie. Kechiche and Penn touch each others lives in ways no one should. Penn plays a vulnerable woman whose life has taken some horrible turns as she enlists the aid of the Muslim cabbie Kechiche to be her friend while she offers him legal help for his family. As events unfold, Kechiche realizes that everything is not as it seems, and has to make some critical life decisions in an attempt to get things back on track. Penn plays the role with absolute precision, giving you the chills the character masterfully manipulates the other characters, especially Kechiche, as you watch events unfold in disbelief.
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Powerful & Gripping
Opinion 8ted8 November 2005
This acting in this film was excellent, and I found it very powerful and gripping with a very unexpected ending. It is too bad that smaller films like this, that are thought provoking and leave you thinking well after seeing it, often get overlooked.

As disturbing as Robin Wright Penn's character is, you can't take your eyes off of her and wonder what she is capable of next. And Abdel is also very captivating. The emotional twists, the way these two psychologically torture each other consistently leaves an element of surprise. Some may love it, some may hate it, but with these two controversial characters, I would be hard pressed to hear anyone leave this saying they were bored.

The one thing that is sad, is that indie films like this that are not getting the media attention deserved, means that Robin won't even get an Oscar nod, cuz she acted her ass off! Props to the writer/director Stanzler for taking a brave chance on this material.
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Under the radar, and for good reasons, but not for lack of trying...
secondtake9 February 2011
Sorry, Haters (2005)

An emotionally intense but cinematically thin movie. I'm not sure where that leaves a viewer--I think it depends on what you want from a movie. The theme is ripe. An immigrant (a Muslim) with immigration problems meets a troubled woman (played by Robin Wright Penn) who abuses his situation. At it's most intense and personal it's moving and disturbing, and sad, if such terrible drama can just be plain old sad.

But there are improbabilities (including the way their first meeting in a cab becomes very personal, with another woman and her child, in the blink of an eye). And there is a kind of plainness to it all, the writing, the filming, the story itself, that is linear and not quite enough to keep it going. It's true, I think, that being low budget was not an issue, but even within the style it was filmed, there might have been a better sense of camera-work and editing. The one thing that pushes forward best is the acting, often conspicuous for exceeding the writing. Director and writer Jeff Stanzer deserves a nod for trying, but he's only taken this half way, was a movie.

Do I recommend this? I think only if you like Penn, like indie films about serious contemporary issues regardless of quality, or if you are interested in the theme of Muslim integration and devotion to not being integrated. It might surprise some people with its honesty and tenderness, between the long lulls. But others will sense, in the first twenty minutes, the tone of the whole movie, and might back out. For those latter, the ending is an intense surprise, and disturbing to the point of demented, so there is a need, perhaps, to stick it out, just for that five minutes. But then again, maybe not.
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Good psychological thriller with an interesting perspective on the damage of hate
mrncat7 June 2006
This film is both a psychological thriller and a comment on the damage that hatred inflicts. On several levels it can make you look at people's actions and how it can happen that we can become driven by our negative impulses rather than by compassion and understanding. Also the film looks at how the pressures to achieve success, feel loved and wanted, and have a sense of personal empowerment dominates modern life, and when people feel like failures in these realms, the inclination to become bitter and then lash out somehow can take over. Robin Wright Penn does an excellent job of portraying the main female character -- with the risk of giving too much away here, she makes this woman a composite of both sensitivity and instability so that there is a growing awareness of unpredictability concerning her actions and where the movie is going. Abdel Kechiche, the actor who plays the Syrian cab driver, is compelling as well.
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Nothing at all to be sorry about
talltale-114 August 2006
A kind of psychological mystery that tends toward the thriller genre that is a also finely-tuned character study that features a brilliant performance from its leading lady and--most tellingly of all--approaches how we live now and the events of 9/11/01 with an original perspective that makes that day frightening again in a whole new manner (and that's a mere portion of what you'll get), SORRY, HATERS is so shocking in so many surprising ways that I haven't stopped thinking about it for several days. It succeeds as entertainment, provocation and mind-expander, and seems to grow more powerful and mysterious the more I consider it.

Robin Wright Penn, who has helped improve movie after movie from "The Princess Bride" through "Forest Gump," "White Oleander" and "Nine Lives," reaches a new plateau here: that of taking absolute ownership of a film. She manages this despite the very fine work of the rest of the cast, which includes Sandra Oh, Josh Hamilton, Elodie Bouchez and an especially rich and beautiful performance from leading man Abdel Kechiche (who is himself writer/director of the 2005 Cesar-winning French film "L'Esquive"). The writer/director of "Sorry Haters" is Jeff Stanzler, who made the interesting "Jumpin' at the Boneyard" back in 1992, and two short films since. That this 2005 piece didn't put Stanzler on the map of big-time movie makers will remain as mysterious to me as does his movie.

I will say no more about the film, except that you might, at its conclusion, want to turn to the Special Features and watch the round-table discussion between a group that includes Tim Robbins, Mary Louise Parker and Julian Schnabel, all of whom seem as blown away by the film as was I. Certainly, for all of us, Muslims in America and a sweet phrase like "I want to give you something my parents gave me" may now resonate in quite a different manner.
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Robin Wright etches a haunting portrait
D A7 August 2006
This is one very riveting psychological drama that just continues to evolve it's statement of purpose throughout the well plotted piece. Working on a tiny budget, this film was shot on less expensive equipment in merely 15 days, but the movie still manages to be about as relevant and fresh as is possible in a post 9/11 context. The hopefully soon-to-be-known Jeff Stanzler weaves into his tiny project about a mysterious, bitter divorcée and a humble Arabic cab driver, the psychological micro and macro-cosmos revolving around the current political climate viewed through an emotionally unstable context. Truly tough to describe the profound themes examined and revealed in this movie without taking away from the wonderful grace which with those plot devices are announced, but we can definitely assume that the two lead performers do an extraordinary job at keeping the material grounded and relative, however irrational the final result may be- it is nonetheless strikingly potent, and an all too rare refresher into the darkness and secrets one mind may be able to harbor while always looking the other way in front of a population.
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What's the Point?
cadmandu18 March 2006
This is a film about Ashade, a Syrian chemist who drives a cab in New York, and a woman who works for a TV station, and 9/11. I hesitate to say more about the characters or plot, because all of them are complex and tricky, and saying any more would lessen your experience.

What I can tell you is that the plot has a fascinating Hitchcockian twist in the middle, and an ending just about no one sees coming.

On the other hand, watching a film about Moslems, terrorism, and one truly nasty white girl left me immensely depressed. I wasn't seeing any light at the end of the tunnel, no shining sanity anywhere. Maybe that was the point.

The screening I saw featured the director/writer afterwards for Q&A, but I was so bummed, I just fled the theatre. Not a bad film per se, but disturbing and dark.
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Hope and Prejudice
Claudio Carvalho27 March 2009
In New York, the Muslin taxi driver Ashade (Abdellatif Kechiche) drives a woman (Robin Wright Penn) to New Jersey and back and witness she scratching a car with a stone. She tells that her name is Philly and she is the powerful producer of the show "Sorry, Haters", and the owner of the car is the woman that "stole" her husband and daughter. Philly snoops in Ashade's life and he tells that he has doctorate in chemistry in Syria but is supporting his sister-in-law Eloise (Élodie Bouchez) and his nephew working as taxi driver since his brother, who is also a Canadian citizen, was arrested in JFK while in transit and deported back to Syria. Philly promises to help the family using a lawyer that is a friend of her. However, sooner his and Eloise's lives and hope are affected by the actions of Philly, whose name is indeed Phoebe.

"Sorry, Haters" is an impressive and disturbing movie about the prejudice and lack of respect with immigrants (and tourists) in the United States of America after the tragic September 11th by a minority of the American citizens and authorities. The treatment spent to Ashade by the security guard and the policewoman in the very beginning discloses the prejudice and indifference to the Muslin taxi driver. Robin Wright Penn has a top-notch performance in the role of an insane masochistic schizophrenic sociopath lonely woman and her complex character deserves to be studied by psychologists. The destructive behavior of the authorities based on an anonymous denounce, treating the innocent Eloise without the minimum respect, is very sad. My vote is seven.

Title (Brazil): "Esperança e Preconceito" ("Hope and Prejudice")
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I loved it
cherylleibert18 January 2006
I thought the movie said a lot about how we relate to one another. And also dealt with violence and hatred in America, along with a number of other important themes, without hitting the audience over the head. I felt angry at times, at characters and at the world, and also sympathetic. It was a journey that I didn't expect to go on, Nor one that I could get out of. In some ways I felt trapped and forced to confront the demons within ourselves and within others. Too often we try ignore these things. Maybe by confronting them we can actually move forward instead of always looking back and repeating history. It was well casted and very well done.
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Details Details Details
Robin Cook30 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
As usual, I rented this movie last night to watch and my habit is I knew nothing about it before viewing it. I have not watched the special features on the DVD yet and may not.

This movie was intriguing and then something shifted gears and I started to lose interest .. can't put my finger on it exactly. I fell asleep and finished watching it this morning. After watching the movie, I went back through it to maybe catch a few things I might have missed when sleep was overtaking me and one detail I thought was somewhat ironic (and probably intentionally symbolic though very subtle and ambiguous). In the scene where Penn (Phoebe) is gluing Trump's magazine cutout photo onto her collage, the camera swings over to her dog in front of the television that is on, and the television has an actress with a bag and a different dog than Penn's and she drops the bag into the sidewalk trash bin just as was done by Penn at the end of the movie (a prophetic parallel). It was just a short blip, but an interesting detail, which I suspect I probably missed many other details in this movie that were just as sublime.

I notice that Abdel Kediche's photo is not shown on this website's movie page, which I think is sad. Both Penn and Kechiche did very fine acting and Kechiche is a very nice face to watch. I hope we see more of him in other film(s).

I was unsure of what rating to give this movie since it was not an easy one to get through to the end, plus the nature of the subject content was difficult for me to stomach or believe or fathom. But, I could believe that something like this could happen and how Arabs or Muslims could be easily victimized due to the impact that 9-11 had on our society. This movie gave me pause to wonder if in reality some have been set up to receive blame for a bombing such as Abdel's character would obviously have been after the ... uh ... pieces were put together.

Penn's character (Phoebe) was difficult to personally accept. I wanted to like her, but just couldn't, no matter what attempts were made to humanize her or to explain away her horrid behavior. Yes, she was mentally deranged, but I simply could not lean over the fence to even like her. Phoebe's dog had a symbolic placement, but was more of a pivotal connective tissue to thread things together, which frankly was not as strong a thread as it could/should have been. The short video blocs on the television of Sorry, Haters show that blipped now and then throughout the movie did not convey as much to me as I suspect was intended, which made the title of the movie weak.

So, with the video blips and the one detail I mentioned about the actress and dog in a scene on Penn's television, I'm sure there were many other blip details through the movie that I didn't catch. As a result this movie had a great many details that simply get overlooked in a one-time viewing. Perhaps if some of the detailed blips were a little longer for the viewer's mind to register them, then this movie would have perhaps been more cohesive. This could be why I had started to lose interest .. perhaps too many visual details clustered for my brain to have time to register them with any significance ... or perhaps should have been left on the cutting room floor. Whatever it was, something just went missing for me at some point.

Considering I had just finished watching Hard Candy movie earlier yesterday, which was outstanding ... this made Sorry, Haters more difficult for me to get into insofar as quality, intensity and content.

All in all, I waffled between a 6 and 7 vote here for this movie. Something is definitely lacking in this movie. If you can get past the stage of where you start to lose interest like I did, then you may find you like this movie. I'd recommend it for at least one viewing since it does have merit in the content, and the casting, acting and script were good.
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melograne6 September 2006
This moving is very polarizing. I didn't like it, because I am an Arab and a Muslim and I felt the injustice of the taxi driver more personally the most of the audience, but my friend loved it, and thought it was thought provoking. Which it is. I will not ruin the ending for the reader, but it will shock you, so be prepared. Additionally, it isn't one of those movies that is very well balanced. In a sense, I didn't really care what Philly's motivations where in the movie, and the director's efforts at showing her as unstable were a bit heavy handed and clichéd. Other than that, the movie was fine, but not exceptional and NOT about Guantanamo.
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Can't believe what I just saw.
kcarr9716 October 2007
I came to these boards just to obtain some type of understanding about this movie. Did I really see what I just saw? (It turns out I did). Either way, I still don't get it. Probably because it is so shocking. I'm going to have to watch it again but I can't right now. Very upsetting. I don't want to give anything away so that's all I'm going to say for now. I gave the movie a 10 because . . . I don't know why . . . The music was good? . . . It was so different and offbeat? . . . It was too unbelievable? . . . I've never seen anything like that in a motion picture? . . . . Or maybe because I like the actors/actresses and I think or trust that there was a valid point to be made in this film so I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt. I guess, I'll go with the music and the valid point. On the other hand, I may never watch this movie again.
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Great metaphor!
Elain-ee6 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Ah, I thought about five minutes after the film ended, so THAT'S why they put a picture of the World Trade Centre attack on the cover! It's not immediately clear why, but I appreciated being allowed by the director to puzzle it out on my own. I suspect that's the whole point of this film?

There's almost no mention of 9/11 in 'Sorry Haters', a fact that I appreciate, because I watch movies for the drama and not for the cold, hard facts. But in the tradition of all great dramas, the makers of 'Sorry Haters' have managed to make a total fiction tell us some hard truths about 9/11.

This story is one big metaphor for the dynamics between the West and Middle East. The West is embodied by Phoebe and the Middle East, by Ashade. On the one hand, Phoebe goes out of her way to stir sh*t because she's brimming with inner tension. It turns out that she probably got this way from a lifetime of being casually tormented by people around her who got what she wanted to get, but was too 'civil' to fight for. Even Phoebe's so called best friend snipes, "I wasn't an accountant, I was even WORSE: a sales rep!" (Oh how nice Philly, you shouldn't have!) The hyper-successful and outgoing Philly practically oozes a constant stream of subtle insults like this, all meant to put Phoebe in her place. Whether she's doing it consciously or not is another question. It's obviously a very ingrained habit, though.

Having been forced to compete brutally with her peers, and even her best friend, Phoebe seemingly doesn't know how to stop until she's clawed her way to the top of some sh*t pile, somewhere in the city. And she's willing to go to desperate measures to do that. It looks like all that competitive spirit has wiped out any trace of sympathy or humanity in her. It's The American Dream gone oh-so wrong... as it increasingly tends to do, these days.

I kept asking myself throughout the film why Phoebe was so bonkers: it was her single minded obsession with, 'I want what she has'. It does make you ask questions about how much you really need any of the things you want.

There's a pretty clear connection between the rise of Islamic terrorism and the invasions of the Middle Eastern by Russia, the U.S., U.K and France over the last few decades. Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq were once more progressive places than they are… before the West started to get antsy about how much oil they were sitting on (or near). Every time we withdraw our troops, having failed, yet another chunk of Middle Eastern progress crumbles away for good. And the likes of ISIL and the Taliban spring up to funnel people's anger and pain into fundamentalism or civil war. Or terrorism. Of course, the problem could be solved (or at least lessened) if the West would just STOP messing about in the Middle East, but why do that when the weapons industry's making a killing from it all too...?

That's not to excuse terrorism - one attack is as bad as the other - but Western nations do like to play the innocent victim even as they go on doing things that they KNOW will add fuel the terrorists' fire.

The western world's compulsion to invade and manipulate the Middle East to enhance its own bank portfolios is very clearly mirrored in Phoebe's compulsion to violate Ashade's personal boundaries. She infiltrates his mind and controls him for the sake of saving her ego. It's insane but she's just like some of the more cutthroat businessmen I've met. She goes to radical extremes because she's bored with her routine, and exists in social isolation. The one-track mind she possesses isn't inherited, it's earned, and the business she works in rewards it.

Just like the Western world, Phoebe seems to 'have it all' but having it all's not enough. She's obviously just broken from living in her cut-throat object-obsessed world for so long. Again, the American supermalls full of dead eyed shoppers come to mind. (Sorry Haters might be interesting companion film for Dawn of the Dead or American Psycho for that reason!).

I also felt that Phoebe's character was strangely sympathetic... which is a real feat considering her actions. Bravo to Ms. Penn for sustaining that balancing act. Most western people will have felt as enraged about the unfairness of capitalism at some point, so it would have been bad to alienate all those people by making her too 'evil'. Many other actresses would have taken an easier route, but Penn keeps you guessing and wondering whether you should take her side.

I agree with the other reviewers who commented that Ashade is a little bit TOO good, though. After all, fundamentalist forms of Islam have always existed and have almost always been quite hostile toward women. It would be silly to dichotomize the Muslims as wonderfully good & pure people, just as it would have been a bit silly to turn Phoebe into a purely heartless killing machine. No one is totally good or evil. So as far as a realistic drama goes, it's a bit of a push... BUT seeing as this is a metaphorical drama, it worked out okay.

While the film opens on a city that's clearly still a bit edgy after 9/11, the ensuing tale neatly answers the question of who planted the insane IDEA of 9/11 in the minds of terrorists in the first place. Maybe it was someone like Phoebe who took "my family, my whole world" away from a stranger. Most acts of war and terror are like that, when you think of it - they're all just an externalization of the sound a mind makes when it pops.
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Everything will be fine after the USA converts to some form of fundamentalism.
armalightt3 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Spoiler alert! Don't read on if you don't want to know what happens. That said, let me see...where do I begin? Robin Wright Penn plays a single, urban New York "sophisticate" who has a job that would have probably gone to a man in a previous era. Clearly an unhappy woman. In addition, she's a great dog lover, so she's betrayed her maternal instincts and gone "mad" replacing babies with puppies in her life. What to do? Ah, yes; more betrayal. Let's see, there's also a noble Muslim driving a cab in Manhattan. OK! She will ruin his life by setting up a terrorist operation for him! Excellent! Wait. Why? "Sorry, Haters" makes sense if you're a religious extremist, or a communist. In short, anyone who hates the West. The "moral" of the story clearly is, if educated women who have been driven "insane" by capitalist ambition will shut up and go away, and take their pets with them, everyone will be happy and there won't be any more terrorism. In that light, the smug, condescending title of this film could also be interpreted as an (unconscious?) letter close and signature, such as...Love, Mom.
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Gives independent films a bad name
jcosta-531 January 2007
This self-indulgent vanity project is a superb example of why writers should not direct their own movies.

The film showed real promise at the beginning and the acting is fine. However, the tempo and plot are uneven and often under-developed. Most importantly, the movie suffers from a split personality about half way in and the director/writer can't quite decide what film he's making.

The movie is one part moving emotional drama. The drama centers around a troubled woman just trying to get by and make sense of post 9/11 New York city. However, the movie is also part pointless thriller/horror. This thriller/horror element of the film is poorly crafted and simply does not mesh with the rest of the film. Instead, it left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

The thing that depressed me most about this movie is that I felt that there was a genuinely amazing film buried somewhere underneath the train wreck of this film.
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Something My Parents Gave Me
rangerthehorse19 January 2013
It has been years since I first saw the brilliant Robin Wright in this performance; the film, I find, never quite left my subconscious. Every once and again I dream about it and, more often than not, the dream is a nightmare.

I will not bore you with a plot synopsis here; I'm sure that has already been covered. I will, however, summarize Sorry, Haters through the words of a good friend to whom I showed the film, with no plot setup:

"Dude, that was one of the most f****d up things I have EVER seen."

I would have to agree. A class act from principals to supporting cast and everyone in-between. This is a triumph not just for indy film but for the art of film at its fundamental best.
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Confusing plot, characters, roles, story line, The 'Time' in NYC
Karen Dallas Hartig15 May 2012
Warning: Spoilers
*** any spoiler will be designated with the ***.

either whoever wrote the story line needs to change it, or the movie itself needs to clarify the time in question as to when the movie takes place, which is in post-911 NYC, and why the characters are interrelated. i'd prefer the latter, since the fact that it's done after 911 is only apparent in one VERY brief 3-second time spot, i.e., when you see the view of New York's skyline from Battery Park, which is where you'd see the WTC towers that are now gone. (we have a plethora of unread, stupid and/or careless, ignorant young citizens in the US today--in 2012--who would not recognize Battery Park or have one inkling that that is where you'd plainly see the WTC in the past).

the plot is confusing if one does not realize that it all happens in post-911 NYC, i.e., not far distant from the time of the attack on our soil. the interrelationship between the main characters, a taxi rider who is a very messed up, lying, scheming, psychotic Caucasian female who at least works in NYC (because it is not clear that she lives there or if she herself saw or even, in her psychosis, remembers the attack), and Muslims--particularly the Allah-Akbar-praying taxi cab driver--he, himself and his also confusing family and their plight--does not clearly spell out why the woman has the driver going on wild goose chases both in the city and outside of it, in order to get her to the places where she does her dirty deeds and in so, ends up stealing money from the cab driver that is truly part of the plot, but it is not clear as day, and it should be.

the reason that the cab driver so badly needs the $500 that the psycho-woman stole from his glove compartment is to cover legal and other related expenses to help his brother, whom he genuinely and earnestly explains is in Syria and who is at great risk of torture. you see, the rider, the psycho-woman, uses that knowledge as the reason behind her theft. she also uses the knowledge to create and to maintain her grandiose characterization of a highly-paid and powerful executive of a TV station in NYC with a stupid, vapid name that tells the viewer nothing at all other than to reflect upon our times and our high school graduates with who-knows-what-fires synapses in the layers of gray matter hiding out in their craniums.

the worst thing about this movie is that it's not clear that all that happens in it, as well as why the characters do what they do or else are who they happen to be, relates to 911. so then, if one of the multitude of rap-taught MP3-playing-loudly-through-the-earbuds HS graduates (that should have dropped out of school when they were 10 years old, so that they could become crop pickers to replace illegal Mexican aliens in CA), watches this movie, they will not know what it's about or why the events unfold the way they do. they just will not understand it. and neither will you, if you don't realize that there is no longer a World Trade Center made up of two skyscrapers that just are not there anymore, and so far, at the time that the movie centers on, have not yet been rebuilt. because, as indicated above, the only time in the entire movie that you know it is when you can see, for too short of a time, from Battery Park, vacant ground where the towers stood in Manhattan. in other words, it is presumed that you KNOW that the motivation behind the woman rider's actions and the family ties that are shown to us, those of the Muslim cab driver, have a legitimate place within the movie. otherwise, the movie cannot stand on its own. nothing would make sense if you do not know the time frame. even the characters' interplay would not make any sense.

*** SPOILER: the ending of the movie, when the taxi cab driver carries a bomb that explodes in a subway station and who he realizes too late will kill innocent passengers, as well as himself (thanks to the psycho-woman and her hatred and delusions) cannot be understood unless one knows the time and context of this movie.*** END OF SPOILER.

all in all, i think that this movie is vague. the most i can say for it is that it reflects the hatred one feels creeping under their shirt collars as they walk about the massive, darkened cities of the USA that have become too dangerous and depressing to live in. it shows madness. it proves that manipulation and crime pay (theft) and that keying cars pays as retribution (for imagined deeds done against you, but which are not factual and are imagined). it shows that America has turned upside down in madness, as well as that it shows the life that Allah-fearing Muslims live (insanely, as is their choice, in the 7th century rather than in the 21st), what with prayer to Mecca required five times a day, even if they live in Egypt and happen to be rioting in the streets for democracy. ("prayer break! then we go back to the shaking of fists as we run in crowds in the street, into the view of the ABC, CBS and NBC World News TV cameras").

i tend to rate movies, particularly indies, higher than one usually finds here on IMDb. but in this case, for this movie (the title of which is also confusing), so strange if one does not know CONTEXT and the TIME it happens in, the maximum number of stars i can give it is only three out of ten.

3/10 by karen dallas hartig, chicago, may 2012
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Pretty hate machine
bob_meg14 March 2011
Jeff Stanzler's second feature-length film is a lacerating gem of such unhinged chaotic force that it's hard to believe it got made in the first place. It's one of those movies that, especially if you know nothing going into it, consistently shocks and amazes you. It has a plot that makes a sick sort of cosmic sense but that couldn't possibly come from the mind of anyone but an independent film geek --- it's anti-derivative, if anything, and all the better for it.

Robin Wright Penn gives what is probably the spookiest, most immediate portrait of a woman unhinged since Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction. No...strike that. At least Alex seemed to have moments of genuine emotional regret. Penn's character is a hate-o-tronic machine, seething with disgust for the MTV-like cable station she slaves away at during the day, biding her time until she can trash luxury status symbols on off-hours, many of which belong to her former best friend, (Sandra Oh in another of her effortlessly breezy portrayals) whom she blames for wrecking her life.

But Penn's character isn't just some random sociopath, she's a woman with a plan, and at the center of that plan is an innocent Muslim cab driver. After shanghai'ing him for a late evening-early morning cab ride out to Jersey from NYC, she lures him in with promises of legal help for his unjustly detained brother. It is gradually revealed that her motives are far more sinister and twisted, however, than just procuring an admirer for her over-active imagination.

What's really incendiary about this film is the writing and Penn's performance. The script lets us know in a million little twists and slips-of-the-tongue just how bonko Penn's character is. She's like a human grenade on screen...her psychosis is ingrained so deep we never know just when the pin will fall out. It's a riveting performance.

Much has been made of the finale, which, while shocking, is just about perfect in its style and execution. It's a great finish for a film that eloquently turns the tables on the myth that all hate, in America, comes from the outside.

"Why? Why?" the cabbie beseeches Penn, after she has done much more damage than good for his brother's case. This is a question we often seem to be asking the terrorists...and the answer is no more comforting here than in real life. Sometimes hate isn't a grandiose statement...many times it's just cheap and ugly.
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Robin Penn in a Hair-Raising Portrayal of Psychosis
robert-temple-110 July 2010
It is ironical that Sean Penn portrayed a violent psychopath so brilliantly in THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON only the year before (2004, see my review), and that his ex-wife Robert Wright Penn has here portrayed a female equivalent character equally brilliantly. Surely they should have stayed married if they can both psychose so well. Why not do it together rather than in separate films? Oh well, more people would probably get blown up that way. This film has an unfortunate title which is bound to have put everyone off and diminished the audience. After all, how is the public supposed to know that 'Sorry, Haters' is the title of a TV series about rich celebrities made by the company Robin Penn's character works for? OK, so it relates ultimately to this film as well, but that is really carrying subtlety too far, and was certainly counterproductive. This film was written and directed by Jeff Stanzler. Unlike many script writers, he can direct his own work very well indeed. And as for the script and the plot, they are so fantastically ingenious that this ranks as one of the most unexpected thrillers I have ever seen. It is a truly innovative film noir. It is very rare for any one to be clever enough to get such new angles and come up with a story this original in such a well-ploughed genre. There is nothing listed for Stanzler professionally in the five years since he did this. Is he getting his strength back after this harrowing and utterly brilliant shocker? The film twists our preconceptions about current events concerning terrorist atrocities into unrecognisable and novel shapes. The setup of a stooge in this film is just as ingenious as the one portrayed in ARLINGTON ROAD. Robin Penn begins the film as a highly strung and neurotic independent TV producer who takes a taxi. The driver is a devout Muslim who wears a little white hat but speaks fluent English and French. He is a refugee from Syria, and as he takes Penn on an extremely long drive costing about $200, he and she become acquainted. He stops off to see his sister-in-law (played by French actress Elodie Bouchez, see my review of her in PACT OF SILENCE, i.e. LE PACTE DU SILENCE, 2003) and baby niece. He is trying to get his brother released from confinement as a terrorist suspect and Penn offers to get a lawyer to draft an official letter for him about this to the authorities. But countless bizarre events happen, one after another, in bewildering succession, and it turns out that Penn is not a TV producer after all, but merely a lower-level employee of the company, and the office she had appeared to use was that of her old friend Phyllis, brilliantly played by Sandra Oh (who is of Korean extraction). Phyllis's husband and child turn out to be the ones which Penn had told the taxi driver were her own ex-husband and her own child, and this is revealed to be untrue. But that's only the beginning of the surprises. Things get stranger and stranger. It turns out that Penn, who is treated by Phyllis as her best friend, is really a sociopath and psychotic who secretly hates her and wants to harm her (she scratches the paint off her car covertly, for instance). But her moment of truth is when she revels in the fact that the only time Phyllis ever called her and 'was weak' and needed comforting was on the day of 9/11. She says: 'That was the only time I felt I was not just a nobody. I want that day back.' However, I do not want to ruin the surprises by telling any more. Suffice it to say that if you want to stage a terror attack in New York, and you are clever enough to blame it on an innocent Muslim whom you pick up in a taxi, well you might appear in this film. Abdel Kechiche, a Tunisian actor, does a superb job of playing the difficult and complex role of Ashade, the taxi driver. He fully matches the intensity of Robin Penn's performance with his own.
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Scathing Truth
Al Rodbell5 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
An excruciating film, one that should be preserved to give future generations a glimpse of the underside of American life in the first decade of the 21st century. It depicts the effect of the disaster of 9-11 on those for whom it provided a fleeting moment of release from a life that was inescapable silent suffering.

Robin Wright Penn, became such a person, as Phoebe, whom we are introduced to as a successful creative director who connected with the most unlikely of persons, Ashade, a Muslim cab driver who was caught up in the national fear of people just like him. His gentleness, erudition, kindness and industry was of no meaning when the Government had decided that his kind was a pressing danger to the country.

Phoebe exposes herself to Ashade in a way that is true to what we are to learn she has become. Only by the genuineness of the developing relationship are we transported inside the soul of Ashade, brilliantly played by Abdel Kechiche. As he learns that this kind powerful woman that befriended him is something quite different, his impotent rage struck a personal chord of truth never before realized in a cinematic production.

The key to the film was Phoebe's describing how only in the chaos, the fear that followed the destruction of the nearby World Trade Center was she important, only then did her friend who had it all reach out to her. In chaos there is community for those who have never found one.

A magnificent work of art will always transcend any attempt to describe it, any review falls short for the very reason that success is making a medium do that which can never be achieved outside of the arts being applied. It transcends mere description.

And so this film, by use of a script, cameras, directors and actors, creates something so much more. These people, these characters, are now part of my life, and have given me understanding that otherwise would have been absent.
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The lonely girl
jotix10025 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
"Sorry, Haters" is a disturbing film written and directed by Jeff Stanzler. In it,d the viewer is taken to meet a lonely woman who is appears to be on a path toward insanity. It combines recent events with the actions of a misguided individual that is bent in destroying a human being.

This is a film that gives an opportunity to Robin Wright Penn to create one of the most complex characters one has seen in movies recently. Phoebe has unresolved issues within herself. She sees an opportunity to redeem herself by destroying Ashade, an Arab taxi driver trying to make a living in Manhattan. Phoebe, who have experienced frustration in her life, plays dirty tricks on Ashade, a kind soul that doesn't deserve what is in store for him.

Not content with eliminating the taxi driver, Phoebe involves his innocent sister-in-law who is an illegal alien. This woman is dangerous; she us a mousy individual who wants to get rid of any threats, real or otherwise. That is why she feels she must destroy Ashade, the enemy she perceives him to be. Also, her relationship with a more successful partner, Phyllis, comes into play. Everything changed with the September 11th attacks, which, in a way, propelled Phoebe into insanity.

Robin Wright Penn is a joy to watch in the movie. She never makes a false move; Ms. Wright Penn is an intelligent actress who gets under the skin of any of her screen characters. It's rather doubtful any other female player would have given life to her Phoebe the way she does. Abdel Kenishe is seen as Ashade, the poor taxi driver singled out by Phoebe. Sandra Oh who appears as Phyllis is also in top form. Josh Hamilton is not even credited with his appearance as Phyllis' husband.

"Sorry, Haters" is not an easy film to sit through. The best reward for the viewer lays in Robin Wright Penn's portrayal of a disturbed soul.
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surprisingly good psychological drama on the effects of terrorism
dromasca20 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This independent movie of an completely (to me at least) unknown director was surprisingly good, reminding me the sophisticated plots and turns in the way we perceive the characters of the early movies of David Mamet. I recommend that you watch it as a a psychological drama, and not as some general commentary about terrorism.

The movie starts like an immigrant to American relations drama, with a_ little_too_good_to_be_true Muslim cab driver Abdel Kechiche taking for a night ride alcoholic and frustrated TV producer Robin Wright Penn. We soon find ourselves in the typical immigrant drama, with an actual component, as the brother of the cab driver is a prisoner in Guantanamo, soon to be shipped to Syria where he would be tortured or worse. An soon after we start finding out that all this is a set up for a very different type of drama, a psychological one, where the culprit lies somewhere else, and the impact of terrorism in the day to day life comes from an unexpected place.

There are some details in the movie that make the story non-credible, and some of the political touches are too exaggerated. And yet, the quality of Robin Wright Penn's acting, and the delicate balance of the relation in film changing from empathy to stupor and hate and emotion towards the final and brutal twist leaves a very special feeling. Not all corners may be perfect in the story of the film, but there is a level of truth and anxiety about our lives that makes it step ahead of the crowd.
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how come i didn't know this film existed!
laddbidh-16 December 2007
this movie with it's twists and turns is far better than most of the movies out in the past 1 1/2 years. i loved the writer/directors twists and turned and found them, at first, a little confusing but then realized what was going on. (i'm a little slow!) RWP did a fantastic job in her very difficult emotional role. I plan to tell my classmates to watch this movie for her work. very impressed over-all. The end didn't really bother me due to the complexities of RWP character. One was aware that this was a low budget movie and that did bother me. Some of the cuts and blackouts were not to my tastes but overall this movie kept me very involved. The writing was kept simple but interesting.
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Quite different type of terrorist movie, Penn is excellent.
TxMike11 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Interesting title, it turns out that "Sorry, Haters" is the title of a TV program that Robin Wright Penn's character Phoebe is associated with producing. The fictional program has wealthy flaunting the products of their wealth.

As the movie begins we see her needing a cab ride, and she happens upon Abdel Kechiche as Ashade, a Muslim in NYC. Innocently enough Phoebe has him take her to New Jersey where we see her watching a family from afar, then going up to the new Lexus in the driveway and putting large scratches in it. Then, getting back in the cab and going home.

It doesn't stop there, she ends up insinuating herself into his life, going to where he lives, and where he visits the French Canadian wife of his brother who was arrested and deported for the wrong reasons. Phoebe gains Ashade's confidence when she tells him she has connections that will help get his brother free.

The movie is one of those where you can't take your eyes away, because you simply never know what is coming next, and most developments are not what you would expect. It helped overall to view the 14 minute DVD extra with Tim Robbins and several others discussing the movie and what they thought it meant.

SPOILERS. Another character was Sandra Oh, as the big boss where Phoebe works. In fact, Phoebe misrepresented herself, told Ashade a series of lies, on a rooftop pretended to call a lawyer to get the brother freed. Phoebe has problems, and the one time she felt really useful was on 9:11 when her boss was frightened and asked for comfort. Her whole life now has become to try to recreate that feeling, all the while not caring about anyone else. In the last scene, she and Ashade are going somewhere, they pause at the top of subway stairs, puts something in his pocket saying "my parents gave me this, I want you to have it." Then she pushes him down the stairs, a few seconds later an explosion as she walks away. In a final act of terrorism she tosses her dog into an oncoming truck and walks away. She no longer needed the one thing that was comforting her.
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