Movie Review – The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give – Solid, well-intentioned but a bit oversimplified and preachy look at race relations in America through the eyes of a 16 year old African-American female. Relative newcomer Amandla Stenberg gives an eye-opening performance as Starr Carter, a high schooler who is being given every opportunity possible to succeed in life by her parents (Regina Hall and Russell Hornsby), but who struggles with her racial identity. Growing up in a violent, urban neighborhood, Starr’s parents send her to a mostly white, private high school. In an attempt to fit in, she tries to subdue all instincts that make her black. However, on the weekends, she likes to hang with her black friends and people from the neighborhood. After meeting up with a childhood friend at a party, they are pulled over by a white officer. When the friend reaches in the car for his hairbrush after stepping out of the vehicle, he is shot to death by the police. Starr witnesses the terrifying death and the neighborhood erupts. She is shielded by her parents and her police officer uncle (Common) from the public, but finds the pressure of keeping quiet becoming too much. Her home community wants her to come forward and speak out. Her high school friends want to protest just to get out of class and the local neighborhood drug pusher King (Anthony Mackie) fears he will be outed by the young girl since her dead friend sold drugs for him. Tempers rise, confrontations ensue, and young Starr eventually finds her voice to protect her fallen friend’s legacy. The Hate U Give is still powerful enough to merit watching as it tackles important social issues. However, one may wish things didn’t play out so simply. Even the ending is tied up with a happy little bow which is far removed from the conflicts we face in reality and which are observed through most of the production. In a year where black film is certainly pushing forward, The Hate U Give is overshadowed by stronger films of the same subject matter like BlackkKlansman and Blindspotting, but provides a quality experience for the middle to high school set. The teenage perspective is well done, but for certain adults, the movie may feel a bit too teen-oriented. Still, overall, a positive viewing experience and worth your time.

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