SF IndieFest 2014
By Don Simpson | February 5, 2014
Director: Joanna Arnow
Filmmaker Joanna Arnow self-reflexively turns the camera on herself in this thorough documentation of her yearlong relationship with James Kepple. Not necessarily the type of guy that you rush to bring home to your parents, Kepple is the quintessential asshole. Spewing provocative “poetry” that is saturated with racism and sexism, Kepple thrives off of confrontation, although he keeps himself comfortably numbed to any rebuttals by excessively consuming alcohol. Most flagrant, however, is Kepple’s total lack of respect or regard for his girlfriend — this is something that Kepple is so proud of that he does not even seem to mind having this film document his atrocious behaviors.
i hate myself :) repeatedly poses the question: who would actually date a guy like Kepple? Arnow knows that her relationship with Kepple is not healthy, so this documentary becomes an existential exercise in self-examination and self-confrontation. Her insecurities and self-hatred quickly rise to the surface, making it pretty apparent that she stays with Kepple as a form of punishment.
In our modern age of over-sharing via social media, Arnow smartly takes a cue from Lena Dunham in presenting a devastatingly honest self-portrait that could be incredibly beneficial to other young women who may find themselves in similarly dysfunctional relationships. Arnow possesses the wherewithal to comprehend that her perspective is drastically skewed while in the midst of this relationship, so the videocamera plays the role of an external perspective; but while most third parties do not know the real truth behind Arnow and Kepple’s relationship, the videocamera is omnipotent. The unblinking eye of the camera does not miss anything — well, as long as the camera is recording and pointed in the correct direction. It seems all too perfect that Arnow’s co-editor (Max Karson) does not wear clothes, thus symbolizing his role to ensure that Arnow too will expose everything.