Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is a young girl who is constantly in between two worlds. On one hand, she’s got her roots, living in a poor, mostly black neighborhood where she acts and talks much differently than she does in her other world, which is a overly-white, overly-privileged, and ridiculously sheltered private school. However, both worlds collide when on one fateful night, Starr’s longtime friend, Khalill (Algee Smith), is unjustly shot and killed by a cop after a routine traffic-stop. After this, she begins to look at everything differently – her family, friends, school, hell, even society as a whole – and it eventually tarnishes the relations she has with those closest to her and makes her realize that some people who she thought were her best-friends, really aren’t. Also, at this time, she becomes much more politically woke, allowing her to finally use her voice, speak up, and demand some justice.
The Hate U Give is, oddly enough, being shown around as another YA adaptation and for some reason, that just doesn’t sit well with me. While there’s a romance and some melodramatic elements, mostly, the Hate U Give exists in the real world, with real situations, real problems, real characters, and real lines of dialogue that hardly feel like they’re written in a sensationalized manner (which is definitely thanks to the late screenwriter Audrey Wells). If this is considered a YA adaptation, then it’s definitely one of the more mature and smarter ones out there and also required viewing for any young person growing up today, trying to make sense of the world we live in, and most of all, wanting to do better.
Cause even with its warts and all, the Hate U Give is still a powerful movie because it seems so relevant. Sure, it’s a little preachy and ham-handed, but it’s most definitely for a good cause and it’s honestly very rare that we see a movie about this subject-matter, with just the right amount of money and star-power behind it. A movie about racism, social-justice, police brutality, and discrimination, oddly enough, doesn’t too often get made by Hollywood, but the Hate U Give did and it’s a much more special movie for that reason alone.
It also helps that the movie doesn’t answer all of the questions it brings up.
For instance, it’s a movie about police brutality, but it also isn’t anti-cop; Common’s character is a cop and has an interesting monologue about why cops sometimes act the way they do. The movie’s also not nearly as pro-Black Lives Matter as you’d expect either; Issa Rae’s social-activist character, while meaning well, also seems to be using Starr as a manipulative ploy to help get this case of police brutality and murder pushed through, even when it seems like Starr doesn’t feel comfortable with it and especially when the rest of the community is about to lose their minds. It’s also about inequality and institutionalized racism, but it’s also not about how races can’t come together on a certain issue; a few white characters are shown to be ignorant, whereas others aren’t and show their sympathy towards the black community in a thoughtful way as best as they can.
See, it’s a movie about a lot of different things, with a lot of different moving parts, but it has one message and one message only: Be better. It’s a movie that, on the surface, is about how awful it is that cops get away with killing black people, regardless of how in the wrong they are (example), but it’s also about how both sides can be better if they just laid down their arms and had the conversation about what is right and what is wrong. It’s also about the social injustice caused and how sometimes, rioting and destroying nearly everything in sight, isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes, just a simple march, or peaceful protest, or call to your Senators, is more than enough and can help change the world in small, yet meaningful ways.
It’s a smart, honest, and powerful movie which, whether it’s made for young adults or not, should be seen by nearly everyone.
Consensus: With a powerful message at its center, and even more powerful representation of the world we currently live in, the Hate U Give has a lot to say, but never seems to get muddled and only wants to inform its audience, rather than talk down to.
8 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: 20th Century Fox