‘I Love You, Hater’ Movie Review: Too many things to love in Star Cinema’s latest hit

    *Minor Spoilers Ahead*

    Following the lives of young professionals, Joko and Zoe, as they compete to become media mogul, Sasha’s brand new assistant, “I Love You, Hater” marks the reunion movie for Joshua Garcia and Julia Barretto after “Unexpectedly Yours” which teamed them up with Sharon Cuneta and Robin Padilla. This time, the young actors are joined by Kris Aquino, who plays technically a movie-version of herself, but with a good narrative twist.

    Joshua Garcia as Joko and Julia Barretto as Zoe in ‘I Love You, Hater’/Star Cinema
    Joshua Garcia as Joko and Julia Barretto as Zoe in ‘I Love You, Hater’/Star Cinema

    Motivated by very different things to work hard to be Sasha’s ultimate pick as her brand new assistant, Joko and Zoe develop friendship, and eventually a romantic attraction to each other. Unfortunately, due to unideal circumstance that they’re in, not to mention the facade they had to put up all for the sake of landing the job, they struggle to deal with their feelings with one another.

    Joshua Garcia as Joko and Julia Barretto as Zoe in ‘I Love You, Hater’/Star Cinema
    Joshua Garcia as Joko and Kris Aquino as Sasha in ‘I Love You, Hater’/Star Cinema

    If their past pairings weren’t enough, “I Love You, Hater” proves that no other actors from their generation can do drama as good as Barretto and Garcia. This essentially sets them apart from all the active love teams out there - they’re good together with all the chemistry needed to sell the essence of young love, but they’re also equally good as individual actors. Perhaps, this is the reason why despite the movie lacking in establishing the attraction supposedly between Zoe and Joko, the movie still works considering that all the subplots other than the love aspect worked well. The two’s respective personal struggles carried the movie, especially considering that they both have very different issues which are not in any way connected with each other.

    For a time, it felt like Aquino was just going to play a version of herself baked into the story of “I Love You, Hater” and perhaps that was really the intention behind her casting. Given that, no one could really criticize what she’s doing on-screen given that Sasha is technically herself in real life. However, just when it seemed she’s nothing but a cardboard character, the film explores her own personal issues - one that cannot be easily seen from those outside of her personal circle. Apparently, behind her go-getter attitude and successful career, she’s just a daughter struggling to prove herself to her ailing father. Towards the third act of the movie, Aquino is given the spotlight to flex her acting muscles, and she delivered.

    Now, would it have been great if Zoe’s paternal-issues was tied to Sasha’s offering a moral lesson that the young assistant need not to reach her dreams just to prove herself worthy to her estranged dad? Yes. In fact, that’s probably one of the biggest problem of “I Love You, Hater,” there were simply too many side plots that didn’t get any resolution. While the movie was fun to watch, mainly thanks to the funny banter and chemistry among the cast, it felt like in its 2-hour runtime, the story’s pacing was a bit off. It lingered too much on some things, and in return, other aspect of the narrative were glossed over. For instance, Joko was supposedly a talented designer - something that wasn’t fully delved on, and John Estrada’s Richard was basically a throwaway character when there was so much potential with regard to her relationship with Sasha.

    Joshua Garcia as Joko and Julia Barretto as Zoe in ‘I Love You, Hater’/Star Cinema
    Julia Barretto as Zoe and Joshua Garcia as Joko in ‘I Love You, Hater’/Star Cinema

    Having said all that, “I Love You, Hater” is a great blockbuster that ticks all the boxes with regard to a hit Filipino flick. While it has some flaws, they’re easily forgivable mainly because of the brilliant performances from the main cast. It’s a good time at the cinema, with few emotional moments that would definitely pull at the heartstrings of viewers.

    — ALD, The Summit Express
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