Hate Crime is a film about two families dealing with a murder when one of their sons kills the other because he is gay. The Browns, Ginny (Amy Redford) and Tom (Kevin Bernhardt) find their marriage on the verge of breaking point as they deal with the repercussions of the murder, and the Demarcos, John (John Schneider) and Marie (Laura Cayouette) feel like they’re dealing with things the best that they can, although cracks soon start to appear as their points of view differ.
Told as a slice of life drama, the film gradually unfolds as the two sets of parents are given the time to set down their characters and to tell the audience how their relationships are affected after such a tragedy.
There could be a temptation to show one family as being less sympathetic than the other, but thankfully the script is far more nuanced and thoughtful, so the film never goes into melodrama and maintains the realism of the situation. There are a couple of twists along the way, but they are never meant to shock or surprise the audience, but rather they are there to develop the story a little more so that any preconceived ideas are challenged, making the situation more three dimensional.
Hate Crime starts out slowly, and for those who may not be familiar with the premise then they may find their attention wandering a little, especially as this kind of drama is rarely seen these days. However, the story is compelling, the characters feel real and the script is carefully and considerately crafted to show the story from as many angles as possible, but without any forced dialogue or contrived plot twists.
For a film that has such a provocative set up, it would be a dangerous task to misrepresent the situation and to pull back on the harder issues it raises. However, I’m glad to say that Hate Crime does everything it sets out to do, giving the audience a satisfying and well told story. There are times where the mournful violin and piano score may feel a bit forced in certain scenes, but this is a minor criticism.
In fact, without the distraction, the film may make its audience more uncomfortable than necessary. Hate Crime is a moving and thought-provoking drama that shows all sides to what could have been a cliched and one-sided story if handled differently. Often not a film that is easy to watch, but for the writing alone it is worth visiting the Browns and the Demarcos.
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