The Hate U Give review by Bobby Blakey
With the world currently in a state of turmoil across the board there is no better time to tell stories that touches on these sensitive, but wildly important issues. The latest The Hate U Give looks to bring one of the biggest issues going right now front and center starring Amandla Stenberg as Starr, with Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Issa Rae, KJ Apa, Algee Smith, Sabrina Carpenter, Common and Anthony Mackie. Could this film get the powerful message across its shooting for or will it be not worth speaking out about?
The Hate U Give follows Starr Carter who is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right. I am always hesitant with these kinds of movies because while the message is important some of them tend to only focus on one side of it all making it feel more preachy than effective.
Thankfully while this one is fighting to put the spotlight on this specific issue it also showcases the thought processes in some of the other areas and those it affects. The film starts off pretty strong with a sequence of the Starr’s father giving them the rules of dealing with law enforcement while black. Some might scoff at this thinking there are no special rules but hearing these words it reminds you that whether you believe they exist or not it is very real to the group of individuals that are feeling the oppression and danger which is horribly sad. This powerful few moments let you know that this was not going to be an easy ride and you needed to listen. Instead of only focusing on the shooting itself they crafted a film that
focuses on the effects it has in family, friendships and community mostly due to inner struggle, guilt and the inability to understand what others are going through sadly more due to perspective than reality.
Everyone in the cast does an excellent job with Amandla Stenberg carrying most of the weight of the film. She brings an amazing range to the role bringing the happiness, sadness and tortured guilt to the forefront making you fully believe her struggle. While everyone else was excellent as well for me Russell Hornsby brought the other most standout performance. He brought so much passion, anger and love to a character who is seeing both sides of the coin while just trying to be about his family and making sure they are prepared for the reality of the world outside their home. His interactions with everyone most notably his kids in the film offer up some of the most powerful moments including one specific showcasing what looks to be anger but instead is a lesson of pride and support all while struggling to fully let his own emotions shine through.
I was pretty surprised about how great this movie really was. I thought it looked good from the trailers, but the overall execution and layered story elements and performances make it a defining film that might be one of the most relevant films today with a message to just get people on all sides to communicate and make changes.