Powerful, Thought Provoking and Honest
The Hate U Give is the film adaptation of the best-selling youth novel of all time by Angie Thomas. A black teenager, torn between two worlds, attends a senseless act of violence. It's a story that pierces the heart of racial division in America. Provoking thought and resonating emotionally, The Hate U Give is unwavering in his honesty. Powerful is a euphemism. Some scenes will upset you.
Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is a brilliant girl, beautiful and sixteen years old. She is one of the few black students of her elite, a predominantly white preparatory school. Starr is popular, has a group of girlfriends and goes out with the cutest boy, Chris (K.J. Apa). She is on the board of honor, athletic, promising in every respect. Starr's school life is very different from his family life. Starr lives in the dark, poor neighborhood of Garden Heights. Starr's parents (Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby) did not want her to go to local schools. Her father, a member of a reformed gang, raised her to the status of a proud black woman. But he knew that the best chance for his future would be where the richest white kids were going to learn.
Starr goes to a local party. She returns to her best childhood friend, Khalil (Algee Smith). Starr likes Chris, but the attraction for Khalil is too strong. When a fight breaks out at the party, they leave together in Khalil's car. An innocent carousel for two teenagers becomes a murderer when they are stopped by a nervous policeman. The carefully separated worlds of Starr collide brutally. Communities collide, friends transform and a dangerous gang leader (Anthony Mackie) becomes a serious threat. Starr must decide to tell Khalil the truth and endanger all facets of his life. Or stay silent and allow a parody of justice.
Police shoot at a black man without weapons is the main factor in history. Starr is horrified when her best friend at school, Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter), is completely unfriendly. When his neighborhood explodes, Starr retires from Chris. How can she tell her father about her secret boyfriend, who happens to be white? The tormented Starr is miserable. It is pulled from all sides. Racism, socio-economic divisions, interracial love are captivating themes for anyone. Leave only a teenager who has witnessed a murder. The Hate U Give attack resolutely to these problems. Starr has to chart his own way through the maelstrom.
Empowerment, understanding and courage are the virtues taught by the film. Starr is not shrinking purple. She finds strength in her values and her unshakeable family ties. Amandla Stenberg plays Starr with such conviction. The character's journey is incredibly deep. Starr covers all emotional ranges. Stenberg is the pivot of The Hate U Give . The story is so touching because you believe and root for it Hollywood rarely gives a voice to black actresses. Stenberg deserves an Oscar nomination for this performance.
Director George Tillman Jr. ( Men of Honor Notorious ) does a masterful job. The Hate U Give could easily have gone down to a special class after school. Tales for young adults in melodrama on the big screen. Tillman takes Starr seriously as a character. He trusts Stenberg's talent and allows him to wear the film. The result is a stirring of the soul.
I disagree with the way a specific character is represented. Hailey, Starr's best friend, did not seem realistic to me. This is not a blow to Sabrina Carpenter, the actress who represents her. The screenplay of Audrey Wells and Tina Mabry presents Hailey in a one-dimensional repulsive manner, cut from Mean Girls . It is implausible that a person who is really busy with Starr, even if their relationship was flawed, is so vile and insensitive to such trauma. Hailey becomes an easy villain in an otherwise well-written story.
The Hate U Give is a reflection of the times. Angie Thomas wrote this book in reaction to the murder of Oscar Grant by a San Francisco policeman. Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale station dramatically told the story. How many Starr exist in real life? The girls, friends and best friends of innocent men have left to recover from the tragedy. Similarly, how many families of law enforcement have been devastated after losing a loved one? A common ground exists through recognition and practical measures. We are not there yet as a country, but we hope that films like this The Hate U Give will help reduce the divide.