Kristen Wiig in Hateship Loveship.

Hateship Loveship is a strange movie. It’s just a hair away from being terrible due to its crazy subject matter, yet thanks to some great performances and solid direction by Liza Johnson, the people behind this one pull off an impressive high-wire act.

In one of her best performances to date, Kristen Wiig plays Johanna Parry, a lonely caregiver who winds up working for Mr. McCauley (Nick Nolte), an older gentleman taking care of his granddaughter Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld) after her mother has died. Sabitha doesn’t like having Johanna around, so she and a friend (Sami Gayle) tease her in a very peculiar way: They pretend to be Sabitha’s addict father, Ken (Guy Pearce), and write love letters to a completely convinced Johanna. In fact, Johanna is so convinced that she moves into Ken’s abandoned hotel without him even knowing.

This incredibly awkward situation is handled so well that Hateship Loveship becomes a good, heartwarming movie instead of an ugly, unbearably uncomfortable one. Much credit goes to Johnson and screenwriter Mark Poirier (Goats, Smart People) for finding much sweetness in what could’ve been a very sour affair.

Wiig has taken some great risks since leaving Saturday Night Live. It is fantastic to see those risks paying off.

Hateship Loveship is available via various online sources including iTunes and