I can’t recommend you watch this movie twice, because of how angry it will make you, but you should definitely see “The Hate U Give” for what it does. It once again battles racism during the Trump Era. In fact, this has been a fabulous year in this particular genre.
The movie stars young Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter (with two Rs), a young African-American girl living with her family in the urban neighborhood Garden Heights. For their safety, her parents (Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall) send her and her half-brother Seven (Lamar Johnson) to the Williamson Prep school. She lives with two identities, and at that school, she considers herself “Starr: Version 2,” and prevents herself from using any slang, despite her other white classmates using them. And she has a white boyfriend named Chris (K.J. Apa), whom she isn’t ready to introduce her father to.
Back at Garden Heights during a weekend party, she runs into a childhood friend named Khalil (Algee Smith), who works for the drug lord King (Anthony Mackie) in order to take care of his cancer-stricken grandmother. After hearing a gunshot at the party, they escape in his car, and get pulled over by a white cop (Drew Starkey) for failing to use his turn signal. Starr took her father’s advice by keeping her hands on the dashboard; and when the cop tells Khalil to get out and put his hands on the car, he grabs his hairbrush, forcing the cop to think he has a gun and shoot him down.
The murder then turns Starr’s world upside down. Being that she’s the only witness to the crime, she doesn’t have the nerve to testify in court. She could put herself in danger, especially when King threatens her not to do it. Eventually, her father’s words of wisdom gives her the strength.
“The Hate U Give” is gripping and honest in the ways it views segregation in urban areas, and the people who want to battle it. The recently departed Audrey Wells and director George Tillman, Jr. both adapt Angie Thomas’ novel at the right moment, a moment when society will never bring racism to an end. In this or any other generation, people are willing to fight, and so does the movie.
The performances in this movie are unbelievable. Stenberg gives her best performance to date as a girl struggling to gain her confidence; Hornsby is fantastic as her strong-willed father; Hall is amazing as her mother, who worries for her safety, while scolding her for being behind in her studies; Common has some fresh words as her police uncle; and Mackie shines as the drug lord. This is such authentic acting, and we really feel their anger.
Again, I recommend you see it once, because of how angry it gets, especially with some of its dialogue. And believe me, my head was burning up with tensions and dialogue. But I’m still advising you to see it for its bravery and motivation. It has a voice and it needs to be heard.