Nietzsche once proclaimed that we choose to love our neighbours because we cannot possibly love ourselves for what we are. Accepting that we are both pleasant and vile, animal and ethical, is an uncomfortably frightening ordeal for many people. Thus, loving oneself by embracing our complexities is to “overcome man”.
Written and directed by Blake and Dylan Ritson, Love Hate toys with human psyche in a darkly comic and surreal way. Ben Whishaw plays Tom, a young man living a quietly self-righteous life as a charity worker. His cozy abode consists of scented candles, neatly framed pictures of him and his girlfriend, decorative masks from Africa – all stereotypically sweet. It’s a shame that Tom is not so talented in his field as a solicitor, unlike his bubbly coworkers. They bounce around the streets to sign up strangers to join their noble cause in sponsoring starved African children thousands of miles away. While Rob is high five-ing a passerby to extend his positive energy, Tom sulks nervously as apathetic pedestrians briskly pass him by. Tom’s daily attempts to live up to his epithet, “a nice guy,” are awkward and pitiable. He represses all bitterness and disdain that he carries in his conscience. Until, that is, he meets Hayley Atwell’s character; Hate.
Hate pops up in front of Tom and possesses him with her diabolical smile. She is confidently bigoted, arrogant and extremely cynical. He stutters, she bellows; she is everything that Tom had been trying to shove deep inside his inner-self. Sly and attractive, Hate makes Tom watch as she tears apart his favorite teddy bear and his sweet little life. Tom starts to play along with her, engulfed by her, discovering joy in being wicked until he starts harming himself in the name of self-hate. Of course he is in dangerous territory here, but he’ll soon learn that it can be just as dangerous to evade his dark counterpart, or attempt to smother it with self-destructive denial.
The film creatively explores Tom’s fear of coming to terms with himself, which he must overcome to build up a psychologically secure, healthy life. Poor Tom is possessed by that fear, too timid to live with his all-too-human shortcomings. It is absurd that our hero tries hard to merely live an identity assigned by others, a generally “nice” person, and allows himself to indulge on Hate whenever he desperately needs to vent his piled up wrath. Perhaps accepting Hate and negotiating with her, letting her out time to time and burning up some stress, could have stopped her from growing so powerful.