The Hate U Give is a movie that speaks to the times. It takes place at a time in which it’s not uncommon to hear about the harassment of African-Americans by the police, and even Caucasian citizens. The Hate U Give takes a hard look at this matter from the perspective of an African-American who must deal with the two worlds she lives in. If the film an eye-opening drama that’s poised and ready for awards season, or does it try a bit too hard to deliver a message? Join us as we take a closer look in our review of The Hate U Give.
Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is the center of The Hate U Give. She is a high school student who juggles two very different lives. Her home resides in the low-income part of town, but she goes to school in a very rich part of the city. At home, she adds a little flavor to her personality, but at school, she subdues that in order to fit in well with her classmates. This is not an entirely unheard of scenario and makes sense if her parents want her to have a better education, but the details throw it off completely.
While Starr may live in what is designated to be a low income area, her house is full of lavish items. They have a nice TV, she has a dozen pair of Jordan’s, and her father, Maverick Carter (Russell Hornsby), owns a local corner store. Her mother works as a nurse, and with all that income it just doesn’t make sense as to why they choose to live in the hood. Her father claims it’s because he doesn’t want to leave, but he can move his family out and still be close enough to remain active in the area.
Details aside, Starr’s father teaches her how to avoid trouble with the police. When she eventually encounters a bad situation with a police officer, she reacts accordingly, but her close childhood friend does not. The result puts Starr in a very difficult situation for the remainder of the film. She struggles with the choice between keeping her life as it is, or risking her life and standing up for her friend.
Stenberg plays her role extremely well, the rest of Starr’s family are also some of the highlights of the film. In addition to her father, her mother, Lisa Carter (Regina Hall) and her father’s former best friend, King (Anthony Mackie) all offer exceptional performances. The problems arise when Starr’s school friends have to deliver a racial insensitive performance.
Starr’s best friend at school is Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter), and while she gets by with a tired rendition of the rich girl at school, when she has to turn the heat on, she falls apart. In some scenes she is tasked with not understanding what her friend is going through and needs to come off racially insensitive, but genuine. Instead, she just comes off as blatantly ignorant to an unbelievable degree, which throws many of these scenes into an awkward mess.
There’s also the primary antagonist, King. While Anthony Mackie plays the part well, it’s written poorly. King shows up anytime a bad guy is needed. In one scene he’s waiting outside a restaurant as if he had some sort of tracker on Starr’s family. It’s one thing to bend the rules a bit for plot convenience, but this takes it to another level and once again removes the audience from what would otherwise be a heated scene.
Despite these issues, The Hate U Give still provides a mostly entertaining and thought-provoking take on racial tensions in America. The plot feels a bit too forced, but the message is still loud and clear. If you’re interested in seeing how the police are seen from the perspective of an African-American, The Hate U Give will provide that. For most it won’t be overly eye-opening, but there are worse things you could be doing this weekend.
About The Hate U Give
Synopsis: Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.
Director: George Tillman Jr.
Writer: Audrey Wells, Angie Thomas (Novel)
Stars: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby
Runtime: 2 Hours, 13 Minutes