Like love, hate too comes around. Tomasz Giemza (Maciej Musiałowski), an expelled law student in Warsaw, makes sure that any hate he perceives is returned with interest. When we first meet him, he is expelled from his university, and if we feel any trace of sympathy, it’s erased when we realise he’s a creep.
He doesn’t share this information with his sponsors, Robert Krasucki and Zofia Krasucka, who also turn out to be the parents of the girl he's obsessed with, Gabriela Krasucka aka Gabi (Vanessa Aleksander). Tomasz is the kind to leave his phone behind at their place, so he can hear what they say about him in his absence.
He is also the type to feel convinced at all times that he’s the victim. He feels this when he perceives mistreatment from Gabi, and thus begins his journey of revenge that affects not just the Krasuckas but anyone who crosses path with Tomasz, the sociopath.
We see this side of him particularly when he gets a job in a PR agency that works to bring down competitors of its clients through fake smear campaigns, wiretapping, cyber bullying... Tomasz is a natural at this, and evolves into joining politics, where he’s asked to run a smear campaign against the left-leaning mayor contestant, Paweł Rudnicki (Maciej Stuhr).
Things get personal when he finds Pawel is backed by Krasuckas. This development may seem like a contrivance, but the pace of the film makes sure you don’t get time to linger over any shortcomings.
The Hater is intriguing in how it works both as a deeply personal story of a revenge-seeking sociopath, and as a social commentary of the hate-driven society fuelled by social media toxicity. Director Jan Komasa and writer Mateusz Pacewicz score high in how they show that hate trumps any political ideology. While Tomasz may be working against the left, the truth is that he is without allegiance, and simply an outsider driven by hate and working for personal gain.
I know what you are thinking. Isn’t it problematic that the film’s protagonist is a creep who seeks revenge? Personally, I enjoyed that in an era of constant judgment, this is a film that shows courage in taking an ambiguous stand on the actions of Tomasz. The film also exercises caution in never giving you reasons that justify Tomasz’s actions. Is he the villain? Or is he the anti-hero? It all depends on you, the viewer.