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Of the large handful of films I’ve seen at the Seattle International Film Festival this year, The Automatic Hate is the least likely that I’ll forget anytime soon. It’s an engrossing film that works combines elements of a family drama, a mystery thriller and love story. If I had to give an elevator pitch on the film, I’d say it’s like Mike Leigh’s Secrets and Lies meets Hitchcock meets “Romeo and Juliet.” It’s about two cousins (played by Adelaide Clemens and Joseph Cross) who learn of their existence while trying to deal both with the secret that has divided their family for a generation and their own attraction to each other.
For a small, independent film, the cast is quite impressive, including Richard Schiff and Ricky Jay as brothers who have been feuding for decades, but are both aware that if the reason for their fighting is revealed, it could further rupture the family.
The Automatic Hate is the second feature film from director Justin Lerner, after his 2010 feature debut Girlfriend, which also deals with the subject of taboo romances, that time pairing a single mother with a man with Down syndrome.
While filmmaker Justin Lerner and screenwriter Katharine O’Brien were in Seattle for its late-May screenings at SIFF, they sat down with the SunBreak to discuss the movie, which they hope to bring back to Seattle in the winter.