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Having it both ways with “Lovers of Hate.”

Having it both ways with “Lovers of Hate.” (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

“Why don’t you just help me?” Rudy Lucas (Chris Doubek) pleads of his brother Paul (Alex Karpovsky) at one point in “Lovers of Hate.” It’s a simple question, but it takes nearly Bryan Poyser’s entire movie to answer. Strangely, this is long after our awkward first impression of Rudy, a shaggy, unsuccessful middle-aged writer living out of his Ford Escort in Austin after being kicked out by Diana, his wife of 12 years (Heather Kafka). He’s having trouble finding a place to clean himself, settling on an elderly woman’s home during his dull day job as a survey taker of sorts when he realizes he only has so long to lather at a local car wash. Paul, on the other hand, is in town to promote his latest in a series of popular children’s fantasy novels, “Maximillian and the Incredible Kids: Rift Warriors,” which by no means is suggested to be a classic of the written word, but has certainly been a financial success.

Knowing that his marriage to Diana is the only thing that would impress Paul, Rudy coerces Diana to pretend that they’re still together, and Paul lends credence to this by saying at the end of their evening together, “It somehow recalibrates my sanity every time I see you guys.” And that’s where the insane part of Bryan Poyser’s dark domestic comedy begins, as a suspicious Paul learns that Diana left Rudy two weeks earlier and whisks her off for a weekend in the snowy slopes of Utah, with Rudy sneaking into lare house to keep tabs.

This is an extremely bad idea, but that’s what Poyser specializes in, if this and his Spirit Award-nominated “Dear Pillow” are anything to go by. As well-told as the latter was — a coming-of-age story tied to a young man looking for a career in writing pornography — the irony of “Lovers of Hate” is that it took a story that is largely confined to a house (albeit a very big house) for Poyser to expand the world that his characters inhabit.

03162010_LoversofHate2.jpgFrom the opening frame of “Lovers of Hate,” the film never feels small, yet when the action moves from the haze of Rudy’s scrappy life in Austin to the brighter, snow-covered plains of Park City, Poyser is able to use every ringing cell phone, unflushed toilet and cutting remark for uncomfortable laughs and a deeper understanding of each of the central three characters. Rudy skulks around the house hoping to go unnoticed by Paul and Diana, who can’t keep their hands off each other.

Poyser gets to have it both ways — using Doubek’s sad-sack Rudy as an agent of sabotage for the potential long-term prospects of Paul and Diana’s relationship, as well as an observer that can bring the audience in to feel more intimate with the couple’s ever-changing feelings towards each other than most dramas usually allow for. During the Q & A, someone asked why Poyser just didn’t make a horror film when the premise is so ripe for scares, but the film’s originality stems from how scared the characters are of their own shortcomings.

Eerily enough, one can already watch the film via video on demand, a fact that led Poyser to gently kid the audience before the film that they were all “suckers” for coming to see it at the Paramount. Yet the big screen rarely sees films these days that are as ultimately rewarding as “Lovers of Hate,” the type of smart, incisive indie that was common in the early ’90s, but has trouble finding a proper niche today, an appropriate metaphor for a film about three people who are struggling to fit the roles that have been set out for them.

“Lovers of Hate” is now available on demand through June.

[Photos: “Lovers of Hate,” IFC Films, 2010]

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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