Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
The Automatic Hate: Families Do Not Get Anymore Dysfunctional Than This
of it as a Northeaster’s version of Cousin
Cousine, except more awkward. Make that way, way more awkward. At first,
Davis Green is keen to meet the cousins he never knew he had. Eventually, he
will learn why the two sides of the family were kept apart—boy, will he ever.
Scandal is inevitable and the truth is far from liberating in Justin Lerner’s The Automatic Hate (trailer here), which opens this Friday in Los Angeles.
Alexis Green first introduces herself to the Boston chef as the cousin he never
knew he had, he is skeptical to say the least. However, after a little bit of
snooping and some agitating questions for his declining grandfather, Davis
Green soon discovers an irreparable rift opened up between his father and the
uncle he never met. Confused and intrigued, Davis visits Cousin Alexis in the
sleepy Upstate New York burg that is home to Uncle Josh’s side of the family.
turns out Alexis has two sisters and they all like to drink. Suddenly, having
siblings seems like a heck of a lot of fun to Green, the only child. However,
there is something else going on between him and Alexis. The Green cousins are
clearly attracted to each other. Obviously, this could lead to all sorts of
problems, especially since Green is already involved with an emotionally
fragile ballet dancer. However, the Green family has a few more shoes to drop.
Floridians say the more north you go, the more south you get. Apparently, this
is also true in New York State as well. Of course, Davis Green’s wing of the
family hails from Boston, so who knows what sort of bizarre behavior seems
completely normal to them? Regardless, Lerner is not shy about regularly upping
the provocative ante. Yet, despite the outrageous nature of the revelations, Automatic never comes across as
have been some memorably disastrous dinner parties in cinema history, but Automatic really takes the biscuit.
Lerner and co-screenwriter’s O’Brien’s screenplay is razor sharp and ruthlessly
cutting. If there is video of their early pitch sessions, it would probably
make a terrific DVD extra. However, it is hard to get why anyone would fall for
Cousin Alexis, given her conspicuously unstable behavior.
that as it is, Joseph Cross is convincingly wide-eyed and freaked-out as Cousin
Davis. Deborah Ann Woll is way more forceful than you would expect as the moody
prima ballerina. It turns out she is the normal one. However, the real show
starts when Richard Schiff and Ricky Jay face off against each other as the
estranged brothers. As usual, Ricky Jay can deliver an acerbic line like nobody’s
it is all said and done, anyone who sees Automatic
will leave feeling thankful and relieved they are not part of either Green
family (and that kind of strong reaction definitely has its legitimacy).
Frankly, it is just impressive how far Lerner is willing to push this material.
Cinematographer Quyen Tran and the wardrobe department also deserve a lot of
credit for the perfectly rendered 1970s era home movies that plays such a
pivotal role in the Green’s secret history. If you are not intimidated by the
third rail running down the center of the picture, it is really quite
compelling. Recommended for patrons of genuinely edgy indies, The Automatic Hate opens this Friday
(3/11) at the Laemmle Monica Film Center.
Labels: Richard Schiff, Ricky Jay