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She Hate Me (2004)

One hetrosexual male. 18 lesbians. His fee $10,000... each.

Directed by:

Spike Lee

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 138 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

You remember that time you were fired from your job as an executive with a top pharmaceuticals company for blowing the whistle on their dodgy dealings, so had to pad out your income by getting your bisexual ex-fiancée to bring you a bunch of lesbians who you’d impregnate for $10,000 a pop? Oh, come on – it’s happened to all of us at one point or another. Well, that’s what ‘She Hate Me’ is about.

This latest offering from the ever-enigmatic Spike Lee stars Anthony Mackie as John “Jack” Armstrong, the bloke who goes through all of the above and more. He’s a difficult character to get a grip of: sharp, intelligent and driven, but also strangely naive in his business dealings and completely under the thumb of a woman (Kerry Washington) who left him years ago to go bat for the other side. But Mackie, in his first major lead role, pulls it off. He looks an accomplished actor who may well shine even brighter when given the chance to work with better material in a less contrived storyline.

‘She Hate Me’, you see, is a strange film. It’s almost like Lee and co-writer Michael Genet are attempting to create a glorified, high-brow dramatisation of the sort of people problems you normally hear about only on ‘The Jerry Springer Show’. And, while billed as a comedy, it’s played more often than not as a tense drama which veers only fleetingly into lighter territory.

What’s more, I really wish ol’ Spikey would add brevity to his considerable list of directorial qualities. Here, he throws in needless quirks such as a shabby and needless piece of animation showing Jack’s sperm racing towards its target, and a daydream re-enactment of the vaguely-parallel situation which led to the unearthing of the Watergate scandal. You get the feeling Lee is smugly proud of such add-ons, but in truth they only serve to add to the vastly unnecessary length of the whole thing.

Right up until the final 15 minutes or so, I still wasn’t sure which way to rate this one – it’s well-acted, fairly original and just about manages to hold the attention. But the final resolution made my mind up for me. As ridiculous finales go, the slice of idealistic nonsense used to round this movie off is up there with the daftest.

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It's Got: Jim Brown playing Jack’s diabetes-suffering dad, a cheery old soul if ever there was one. When he’s not yelling at his missus (Lonette McKee) to lop his legs off, he’s giving Jack handy advice like “first they break you, then they kill you.” Thanks for that, Dad!

It Needs: Mr Lee to stop pretentiously describing his films as “A Spike Lee Joint”, before I finally succumb to my urge to throw a table at him.

DVD Extras Director’s commentary, some trailers, and a 10-minute Spike Lee love-in masquerading as a behind-the-scenes featurette (“oooh, we all just wanted to work with him sooooooooo much!”). Edition Reviewed: Amazon UK:She Hate Me also available at Amazon.com: She Hate Me DVD Extras Rating: 4/10

Alternatives:

25th Hour

Summary

This tough-to-swallow Spike Lee lesbi-tale may well turn Anthony Mackie into a star, but it’s about as comedic as its title is grammatically correct (i.e. not very).

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