Living a dual life between her privileged White friends at school and her Black friends in the community, Starr Carter world takes a turn when her childhood best friend is killed right before her eyes. Deemed as the only witness, Starr must choose if her sanity is more important than her voice.
This film is a roller coaster. A fast, heart racing thrill ride with multiple themes that are far too familiar in society today. Yes, I’m talking about police brutality. Beautifully adapted from the young adult novel with the same name by Angie Thomas, The Hate You Give is a brilliant teen melodrama moved by an extensive plot thick enough to never let you breathe. It is one roar of a film that gets extremely personal as Starr Carter is constantly challenged to pick a side: Black or White. Perceptively, this is not an easy pick, nor does the choice solemnly result in peace, but the real question is does it matter? In this day and age, we have counted over hundreds of deaths from police brutality; there’s no way we can let another one pass by. For this reason, I applaud the film for its vulnerability, style, pacing, and unflinching honesty.
Conversely, it is important to realize that movies do not always directly present itself in its rare form. Blockbusters specifically, use masks such as dystopian societies or science fiction, but this film in particular had one goal, and its to reveal the dark race relations in modern America. We see a take on interracial relationships, interracial friendships, the modern-day black family, institutionalization, the justice system, and plenty more thematic materials that will surely stick with anyone aware of our current state. Director George Tillman Jr. is truly masterful for displaying the hardships in black communities and the police system. He really created a perspective that we can all relate to without being too bias – my biggest fear. A unique, yet genuine perspective in which instead of screaming black lives matter, we are centered around a specific situation that climatically unravels to where we see various results in both the black and white communities. The most interesting aspect of this perspective is we also see how they affect one another. From black on black crime to downright racism, all factors are covered to show that your color nor your background can hide what is morally correct.
By the same token, the performances in this film are outstanding. I can tell you that as award season quickly approaches, I have no doubt that Amandla Stenberg (Starr Carter) will walk away with a couple of wins under her belt. She’s a natural scene-stealer by presenting a character that is physically strong, yet internally full of grief. Another notable mention includes Russell Hornsby as her father, Maverick Carter. He presents a scintillating performance that constantly reminds you that culture is infinite, so be prepared to fight for who you are. On the contrary, as much as I love Issa Rae, she was bland here. Her take on the diligent activist April Ofrah felt forced, unsure, and a bit lazy. I wanted to believe her more in this role because it is different than anything else she has done, but it was not a believable performance. We needed justice for Khalil, and I needed her to fight as if her life depended on it.
Correspondingly, although the film was practically stellar, the score could have been a bit more intriguing. The movie had several moments worthy of a smooth melodic arrangement to match the scene, but rather we were left with one – sided emotions that is not always the best choice. Sound moves the viewer even further when parallel to the script; and if I do not go looking for at least one-track post-premiere, then we might have a problem.
Blacks grab your White friend.
Whites grab your Black friend.
Bring a box of tissues.
And go see this film.