Wednesday, October 12, 2016

What's on Netflix?: THE AUTOMATIC HATE

Welcome to another installment of WHAT'S ON NETFLIX?, where we pick out a film or series currently playing on Netflix and review it for the fans. This week's selection is the indie drama THE AUTOMATIC HATE.

Howdy fellow film freaks, Robert here. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to find out you had relatives you've never met? We've all wondered about this at one point or another. In The Automatic Hate, Davis Green (Joseph Cross) discovers he has cousins and an uncle he never knew about when he is approached by Alexis (Adelaide Clemens), the youngest of his previously unknown relations. Davis suspects it's a hoax, but after some digging through his father's attic, he discovers a painting of two young boys. He tries to ask his grandfather about it, but that doesn't go well. He tries to ask his father (played by Richard Schiff, who will always be The West Wing's Toby Ziegler to me), and that goes better, but Dad is extremely tight-lipped about what he knows. So Davis decides to go meet these relatives for himself and find out why he's never heard about them.

Now you would probably expect, given the title of this movie and the way these stories typically work out, that Alexis and her family are cannibals, or hard core neo-nazis or something like. Rest assured, occasional reader, the movie doesn't settle for such easy cop-outs. The reason the rift exists in the family Green is much more personal. And in it's own way, it's darker.

Not knowing what the reason is for their families' estrangement, Davis and Alexis begin trying to come up with a way to get their families back together. Even when clues to the rift are found, they continue undeterred. It's only when the two families finally do get together that the truth finally comes out, and the old moral that some doors are left unopened rears its ugly head.

Not knowing the solution to the mystery definitely increases the enjoyment of this movie, so I won't spoil it here. Once you do know how the movie ends, you're left to focus on Davis and Alexis' relationship, which gets very inappropriate very quickly. And after their relationship takes this turn, Alexis turns into the crazy girlfriend, which felt like unnecessary additional drama to me. What has happened in the Green family to cause this split is sad, and tragic and also pretty messed up on its own. But when the two sides get together for the first time in many years, things start off looking like the two groups may reconcile. They're actually getting on quite well until Alexis messes it up. I understand a catalyst was needed to set things off and move the story along, and Alexis' ignorance of the situation is a logical choice for this role. I just disagree with the process the movie takes to get her to that point.

As for the rest of the players, Richard Schiff and Ricky Ray, who plays estranged Uncle Joshua, are the ones to watch in this picture; they communicate to the audience that some very large hatchets remain unburied in this family. The others, Davis and his girlfriend Cassie, Alexis and her two sisters, could have been transplanted from any other dysfunctional family drama out there. None of them really brings more to the movie than the standard aimless, Millennial angst so common in movies of this type. The only reason Davis and Alexis take on this task of getting their families back together is the old traditional belief that Families Should Be Together, which, like so many other ideas, sounds great on paper but doesn't work in practice. Being no great fan of tradition purely for tradition's sake, I can't say I have a lot of sympathy for them when their efforts blow up in their faces.

So it's possible that The Automatic Hate shares my rejection of blind, emotional adherence to tradition. But I don't like watching movies just to revel in the characters' misery, and since that's all there seems to be left once the mystery is revealed, there's not a lot of reason for me to watch this movie again. The Automatic Hate is an interesting movie if you don't know how it ends; if you do, it's kind of depressing.

The Automatic Hate is not rated, but contains adult language, alcohol and drug references, and sexual situations.

Robert's Score: 6/10

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