Hate Crime (2005)
What happens when an injustice is committed, but the system is stacked against you? Do you solve the mystery yourself and take matters into your own hands?
Synopsis from IMDB: Robbie Levinson and Trey McCoy, a gay couple in their late 20s, gain an unwanted conflict when Chris Boyd, the son of a fundamentalist preacher, moves in next door. Trey is brutally attacked, lapses into a coma and later dies. Robbie and Trey’s parents, Barbara and Jim, must deal not only with the devastation of Trey’s death, but also with police bureaucracy.
We start out with Robbie and Trey, a cute couple in their 6th year who are planning their wedding and even starting to talk about having kids. They are quite likable.
Then we have Chris Boyd (and the Boyd family) who are presented as utterly despicable people. They are extreme archetypes of stereotypical Christian fundamentalists who seem to spew vitriol every time one of their mouths are open. There is scripture, tasteless gay jokes, threats… you get the picture. Think Westboro. I think it’s important to emphasize again that these are stereotypes, and they serve a purpose in the film. Some have criticized the film for this depiction, and it is hard to watch. But like gay stereotypes, religious ones come from somewhere as well.
I might have liked to see more development with Chris and his own struggles. There are entire movies about his internal conflict, so it didn’t have to be deep or all-encompassing. But most of what we see with him is an expression on his face like he might have to poop.
One of the themes in this film is obviously homophobia. Here we’re looking at religious homophobia, and the direct result of a violent form of it. The scene between the two churches is an obvious illustration of where some of that comes from. The director, Tommy Stovall, said that they call that scene the “dueling sermons.” Another theme is justice and how that may not happen where sometimes the system is stacked against you. We hear the word “homo” coming out of the sergeant’s mouth before he realizes his political incorrectness and self-corrects to “homosexual.”
I’ll admit the ending was a little off-putting to me. I understand that it didn’t seem like Robbie would get justice for Trey’s murder. At first it seemed like the investigation was going slowly, and when the sergeant took over it looked pretty hopeless – even problematic for Robbie. So I get the idea of finding a way for justice happen.
But even as plans are being made for homemade justice, the detective is still on the trail and she’s getting closer. Had they waited, they might not have had to take care of things on their own. But we’ll never know I suppose. And this kind of justice is not infallible – for much of the film Robbie thought the wrong person was the murderer.
Some message boards would indicate that there is quite a split between people who like the ending and those who don’t. Some people found it satisfying that justice was done. I will say that the most satisfying scene for me was when Trey’s mother slapped Chris’s mother when she came to
insult console her.
A side note: There aren’t any Hollywood giants in this film, but there are certainly some very recognizable faces. Giancarlo Esposito is just so good at playing a prick. I’ve been watching him in Revolution, and he’s really good. This movie also stars Bruce Davison who I recognize from Ghost Whisperer among other things. And I know I’ve seen Chad Donelle somewhere too.
Production values are pretty good making this a watchable film. Although I’m not fond of the eye for an eye, homemade justice, I’ll give it points for stirring up conversation and making people think. Whatever you think of the ending, the story is well set-up and compelling.