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July 2004

By Wilson Morales

She Hate Me

Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Spike Lee
Producers: Spike Lee, Preston L. Holmes, & Fernando Sulichin
Screenwriter: Michael Genet
Cinematographer: Matthew Libatique
Composer: Terence Blanchard
Cast: Anthony Mackie, Kerry Washington, Ellen Barkin, Monica Bellucci, Jim Brown, Woody Harrelson, Dania Ramirez, John Turturro, Q-Tip, & Brian Dennehy


Spike Lee is definitely a pioneer amongst African Americans. He and Woody Allen are the only American directors to have come out with a film a year for the last 18 years. Some have been films with critical success such as Do The Right Thing and 25th Hour and some have been missteps such as Girl 6. Nevertheless, each film Lee does leaves you to debate the issue within the film, and Lee craves that. He doesn't want you to walk away and think of something else as if you just watched a summer popcorn film. He wants to be angry or happy, so long as you talk about his film. Most of his films have controversial issues and while that may be a driving force to bring in an audience, he still has to make it compelling and intriguing enough for them to be satisfied with it. Such is not the case with his latest film, She Hate Me. While there are many issues within the film, Lee never connects the dots to make them coherent. They seem contrived and unbalanced, and when it ends, you may have to roll the dice again to figure this film out.

Anthony Mackie plays Jack Armstrong, an Ivy-League African American who works as an executive for a pharmaceutical company called Progeia. The company is working on a vaccination for AIDS and is awaiting approval from the FDA before selling it to the public. To the board members of the company, they need a positive vote to improve sales and make more money. When Jack figures out the company doing some scrupulous deeds to ensure things go their way, Jack becomes a corporate whistle blower and dimes out on his firm. Little did he know that the firm would make him the scapegoat and shift the blame on him and leave him in a ditch, with his bank accounts frozen until the situation is straightened out.

With no money in tow and very reluctant to ask his parents for help, John unexpectantly receives a visit from his ex-fiancée Fatima (Washington), who's now an open lesbian. John found out she was a lesbian when he walked in on her and another woman years ago and has since moved on with his life. Fatima and her lover (Ramirez) each want to have a baby and want John to father their child. They don't want to go through the usual process of tests and adoption. They want it the old fashioned way, through sex. John is appalled that they would even ask him to be a sperm donor. When Fatima tells him she knows about his cash flow problems and offers to pay him $10,000 for her and her lover, the money is too luring to refuse. Not only does Fatima come back into his life, but she also brings in a number of lesbians who are looking to get pregnant as well for $10,000 each. All of a sudden, John finds himself having sex for money.

Credit must be given to Lee for bringing several issues most filmmakers wouldn't dare touch, but he never makes the connection coherent for anyone to buy. Some lesbians will have faults with the way they are portrayed while others might applaud it, but the film doesn't develop the plights that lesbians go through in having children. Instead, what we see is a man clearly having a good time having sex with different types of women; black, white, Asian, Italian, petite, and plus size. At one point, the mob gets into this picture. Instead of focusing on the effects of being a being a whistle blower as well as the corporate criminal activities in light of what is currently going on with Enron and Martha Stewart, we only get a small reminder of who Frank Wills is. Wills was the African American who reported the Watergate activities to the authorities. The rest of the plot seemed contrived and forced. There's no telling if this film is supposed to a dark comedy or a drama. Some moments seemed hilarious when it shouldn't. Mackie is certainly able to carry the film in light of the script, but the talents of many actors such as Harrelson, Barkin, and Turturro are clearly wasted, although Turturro, a veteran of Lee's film, has his moment playing a Mafia Kingpin. In the end, what you have is a film that is certainly provocative and funny, but is that what you had in mind when you came to see it.