The Hater (original title Sala samobójców. Hejter) is a Polish thriller drama released in 2020, directed by Jan Komasa. An awkward young man gets a job in an agency specialized in destroying reputations with fake news.
Hello, there! I’m dos Santos, and this is Ulven Reviews, with Movies and series from all over the world and all eras. Today’s review is of the 2020 movie The Hater directed by Jan Komasa.
Tomasz (played by Maciej Musialowski) was a law student with his education being paid by the Krasucki family. However, when he’s expelled from the university for plagiarism, he doesn’t tell the Krasuckis.
The cunning young man is obsessed with the family, particularly with Gabi (played by Vanessa Aleksander), so he goes to a dinner in their house to spy on them. Using social media and what he discovered spying, he manipulates his way to getting closer to Gabi.
One element to impress people is to get an appreciated job that pays well. And that opportunity presents itself when Tomasz meets Beata (played by Agata Kulesza) at a party. She’s a big shot in a PR Agency and gives him a job after he impressed in the interview.
His job consists of using sock puppet accounts and bots to spread fake news in social networks and destroy the reputation of the target. It perfectly fits his personality and makes him stand out in his work.
He begins destroying the reputation and careers of internet influencers. He does so well that he’s assigned to work in the politics, attacking Pawel Rudnicki (played by Maciej Stuhr), progressive candidate for mayor of Warsaw.
Entangling his job with his personal life, Tomasz uses the resources at his disposal to spy on Gabi and her family, influence the web, and explore the radicalization to achieve his own objectives.
We are in the age of Fake News.
Fake News always existed, but the disinformation found a fertile ground to spread in the social media platforms, influencing bizarre conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and anti-vaccine. Also, it opened a real opportunity for the manipulation of elections.
First, Rodrigo Duterte’s 2015 presidential campaign in the Philippines. The predecessor of what became the norm, especially among the far-right, and it seems to be a real threat to democracy as we know.
AsiaGlobal Online says: “Duterte’s campaign machinery strategically focused on assembling bloggers, digital influencers, and fake account operators to tap into the public’s deep-seated anger — and convert these emotions into votes on election day.”
This deep-seated anger is what driven political campaigns such as Brexit’s, Trump’s, and many others. This emotion is portrayed in The Hater, and it’s fundamental for the development of the plot.
Facebook is always making a presence in the movie, and in real life, it’s no different. The platform uses free speech as an excuse to maintain itself as an echo-chamber for extremists to promote atrocities such as Myanmar’s genocide. Most recently, the company’s CEO said that “Facebook won’t remove anti-vaccine posts…” a move that, once again, will directly cause the death of vulnerable people.
I also recommend that you read the BuzzFeed article on the memo published by a former Facebook employee. It’s about Facebook not giving a fuck about their platform being used for coordinated political manipulation in several countries. The link is in the description box below, together with all the other sources.
These real-life events demonstrate how the movie plot is, unfortunately, plausible. I would say the film is a cautionary tale, but the far-right radicalization on the internet already brought abominable consequences to the world, like what happened in Christchurch, New Zealand.
While dealing with such gloomy themes, it’s natural and well-fitting that the movie keeps a dark tone throughout its whole duration. However, the moments of parties are really fun and immersive as well, and in the COVID times, it even made me miss going out to pubs, clubs, and even cheap bars.
Every event that happens in the film has a purpose, and most of them generate a degree of tension. Because of it, The Hater is the type of movie that keeps you hooked to it until the end. When I watched it, it was late at night, I was in bed already, and my plan was to watch a little and watch the rest some other day. But I couldn’t stop and went all the way before sleeping. It’s like a book or a series that, at the end of each chapter or episode, leaves you wanting to know what’s going to happen next.
Tomasz is by far the best character in the film. It’s strange because he’s an awful person, manipulative, narcissistic, and does despicable things, yet, he’s somehow likable. I was feeling empathy and rooting for him for the most part of the movie.
I’m not sure we can call him an antihero. According to Wikipedia, an antihero is a protagonist that lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes and performs morally correct actions, but not for the right reasons. That’s not the case with Tomasz, who just does awful stuff, acting in self-interest.
Maciej Musialowski is marvelous in the role, and a lot of the sympathy we feel for his character resides in his performance. Sometimes we can understand everything with just his look, his expressions, or a single tear falling from his eye.
A great example is when Tomasz orders food and when the delivery guy, probably an immigrant, has a black eye. The acting, directing, and writing in the scene is so flawless that the audience can fill all the blanks to understand it.
I also really liked the mayoral candidate, Pawel Rudnicki. He’s the most actually-likable character in the film. It’s a decent portrayal of a candidate who’s running to do his city a better place, and not for power or selfishness. He’s also a charismatic figure who captivates the other characters in an honest, non-manipulative way.
Maciej Stuhr’s acting is also extraordinary, fitting perfectly with his role. It’s such a believable and compelling performance, full of emotion. It really captivated me, despite the few time he has on the screen.
Beata and Gabi are fundamental to the plot, but they’re not as good as the two I mentioned before. Gabi has a very positive beginning, with some moments of sensuality and being a deep young woman with her own struggles. However, after one particular event, she becomes completely bland. Vanessa Aleksander’s performance is excellent while she has something to actually do.
Beata is like an older, less immoral Tomasz, but less likable as well. I think Beata might be the link between The Hater and its 2011 predecessor, Suicide Room. I still didn’t watch the prequel, but when I do, I’ll review it here and clarify Beata’s role in it. Be sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss it.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Krasucki couple. I felt they were like the stereotype of Hollywood so-called Liberals, who go for the generalist, trendy, woke political position by default. The rest of the characters are nice enough, though.
I fell in love with the movie’s cinematography since the very first shot, and the extreme quality was consistent throughout the whole film. The first thing that caught my attention was the lighting and how clear the movie was. The camera movements enhanced the mood and the suspense of the plot. While the bluish colors fitted well with the cold, urban settings of the movie.
Talking about the settings… Everyplace is well crafted and really convincing, for example, Beata’s Fake News Agency, Rudnicki’s campaign headquarters, and the eerie shooting range surrounded by the woods.
The music was really stunning, and once again, since the first shot. The original score fits perfectly with the thriller. There’s also a lot of Jazz, part of the ambiance of the scenes. A remarkable song present is “I Get Along Without You Very Well” by Chet Baker, which took a scene to a higher level.
The Hater is dark and very alarming for its proximity to our somber reality. At the same time, it’s a marvelously-crafted work, a very entertaining film that you can’t stop watching until the end. It made a very satisfactory time for me.
The Hater A.K.A Sala samobójców. Hejter is a brutal movie that sadly has too many similarities with real life. However, that’s what makes the film so effective, as well. I’ll give The Hater 9 Moons.
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