“The Hate U Give” stars Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Common, and Anthony Mackie. Released on October 5, 2018, the film is about a teenager who must find her voice after her balance between two worlds is threatened by the fatal shooting of her best friend.
The film is directed by George Tillman Jr., who also directed films such as “Soul Food”, “Men of Honor”, “Notorious”, and “The Longest Ride”. It is based on the 2017 novel of the same name by Angie Thomas. The young adult genre has been known for offering plenty of stories that revolve around science-fiction, fantasy, and the piece of resistance, romance. However, this type of genre is no stranger to the drama element, with the prime example being the one I’ll be reviewing today. Since I often expose myself to the young adult films that weren’t as popular as “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games”, it’s nice to see something that relies heavily on realistic drama rather than dystopias and sparkling vampires. This was on my list of films to check out this month because of its relatable concept and the fact that it serves as a relieving change of pace for the young adult genre. Plus, my mother really wanted to see it, so I had to wait a little bit to see it with her. Luckily, I didn’t have to wait too long because my closest theater was able to get the film before its wide release next weekend. This film has been getting a surprising amount of praise since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last month, and I’m happy to say that it deserved it.
From my personal perspective, talking about a film that deals with a subject like this is pretty challenging. Basically, it’s all about finding the right words to say without getting called a racist, which is something that I’m continuing to deal with while writing reviews. If there was a phrase I could use to appropriately describe the story in “The Hate U Give”, it would be that the film is about the complexity of the community. It’s how we see life. The most important thing about this subject is how it is executed into film without careening towards the melodramatic phase that we normally see in some of the movies from the Hallmark channel. Fortunately, George Tillman Jr. and screenwriter Audrey Wells were able to accomplish this task by relying on realism, complication, and heart rather than forcing the film to be overly provocative all the time. The entire cast did such a great job with their performances, with each of them having their own moment to shine. Amandla Sternberg delivered her best performance yet as Starr Carter, a teenager who lives in two different worlds: the African-American neighborhood and the popular white prep school. I also have to give Russell Hornsby and Common some credit for their realistic and inspiring performances as Maverick Carter and Uncle Carlos, respectively. Anthony Mackie was also great as King, a drug dealer. His performance was a bit different compared to what I’ve seen from him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but I think that’s what made it work for me. What I also liked about the film is how it uses the lighting to showcase Starr’s different worlds. When Starr is hanging out in the African-American neighborhood, the lighting shows a sunset-like color. When she’s hanging out at the prep school, the lighting changes to a light-bluish color. That’s pretty cool. As for its flaws, the film didn’t exactly make me teary-eyed as much as I wanted it to be, but it still got me invested with the story and the characters. It got me to see the characters and the situation they’re dealing with as how I normally see them in real life. I will also admit that the third act was a bit more effective than the last two acts.
Overall, “The Hate U Give” is not only the best young adult film since the first “Hunger Games” film, but also one of the most important films that deserve multiple viewings, no matter how uncomfortable they are. Fueled by a strong cast, an intelligent screenplay, and its encouraging themes, the film does wonders in inspiring a lot of people to talk to each other about its personal subject. This is a must-watch for all ages so that they too can light up the darkness and not allow history to repeat itself.