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“The Hate U Give” Movie Review

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“The Hate U Give” Movie Review

Samantha Zakrzewski, Writer/Editor

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Have your box of Kleenex ready if you plan on seeing The Hate U Give. After reading the novel that the movie was based off of, it was a must for me to see the movie version. There were so many key issues presented in this book that I was more than eager to see on the big screen. Although there were things that I liked about the film, there were other things that I thought could have been done differently. All in all, The Hate U Give deserves praise for it’s dedicated actors and actresses and it’s portrayal of serious issues.

For the purpose of this review, I’ll try not to compare the book and the movie too much as I know that some people haven’t read the book (huge mistake- read the book now!).

Photo Credit: ERIKA DOSS
THUG-002 – Amandla Stenberg stars in Twentieth Century Fox’s THE HATE U GIVE. Photo Credit: Erika Doss.

Anyways, the movie follows the witty Starr Carter (portrayed by Amandla Stenberg), who lives in the poor, predominantly black community of Garden Heights, and attends Williamson Prep, a predominantly white school in a wealthy neighborhood, with her two brothers, Seven and Sekani (Lamar Johnson and TJ Wright respectively). Just like any other high schooler, Starr just wants to fit in. But she goes beyond the ‘wearing what everyone else is’ trend and changes her personality. She has become accustomed to code switching- when she’s with her friends from school, she watches what she says, makes sure to act the way they want her to; and when she’s home, she makes sure to hide her white boyfriend, Chris (K.J. Apa) from her father (Russell Hornsby). It’s kind of sad watching Starr hide who she truly is just so she can ‘fit in’ with a bunch of shallow snobs.

However, the main conflict of the movie is the shooting of Starr’s unarmed friend, Khalil (Algee Smith), by a white police officer, Brian MacIntosh (Drew Starkey), who had pulled them over for failing to signal a lane change. After witnessing this traumatic event, Starr is left shocked, confused, angry, and distressed. We watch as she tries to cope with the murder, which, as you probably assumed, is very difficult for her.

April Ofrah (Issa Rae) at the funeral service for Khalil (Algee Smith).

To make matters worse, she is left with a tough decision- should she speak up for Khalil? Starr is asked by Khalil’s family lawyer, April Ofrah (Issa Rae), to testify, but Starr is not keen on doing so. She knows that Khalil was a new small-time drug dealer (before you judge him, understand that he was in a tough predicament- his mom was a drug addict who had abandoned him and his brother with their grandmother when they were younger and Khalil’s grandmother was sadly diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t work. As a young, confused teenager, Khalil turned to what he believed was his only option- drug dealing). In an effort to defend the officer’s unjust act, the police use this information about Khalil for their defense. Starr also knows that since Khalil worked for the drug lord, King (Anthony Mackie), she will be targeted for speaking out, since King doesn’t exactly want to get busted for, you know, being a drug dealer and all. Frustrated that her friend will be remembered as a drug dealer, she decides to ignore King’s threats and speak up for Khalil.

Although I said that I wouldn’t compare the book and movie, there is just one difference that really irked me- there were characters missing from the book, whom I had wanted to see portrayed in the movie. One such character was Nana, Starr’s hilarious grandmother, who brought much needed humor to the book. Although she wasn’t really a relevant character, it still upset me as I was eager to see how she would be portrayed in the film. Another missing character was DeVante. He may not have been a major character, but he definitely contributed to the story. In the novel, Devante was the one who taught Starr that people turn to drugs because they are left with no other options. He says that King’s gang is so tempting because it serves as a sort of family that offers protection and support that so many of the members have been deprived of their whole lives.

Starr (Amandla Stenberg) speaking out at the protest.

Now that I’ve gotten that off of my chest, let’s look get back to the movie review.

For all you Hunger Games fans, do you remember Rue? She was that little girl who Katniss befriended during the games. Well, little Amandla Stenberg, who played Rue in the movie, isn’t so little anymore- she’s the main protagonist of The Hate U Give. I could go praising her, but for the sake of this review, I won’t. To say the least, she was fantastic! She was exactly as I had pictured Starr in the novel. Watching her confused, distraught character blossom into a confident lady who found her voice really touched me. She does a phenomenal job portraying a distressed teen who must rise above the injustices of her society.

 

 

As for the rest of the cast, some of them lived up to their parts, while others were just outright awful. There was one scene in particular that was filled with such atrocious acting that I couldn’t help but cringe at. Starr and her friend, Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter), had gotten into a fight about how Hailey is a racist (which she is). Starr had decided that she was going to stand up to her so called friend and called Hailey out on the things that she has said. Starr completely went ballistic on Hailey, who started “crying.” The reason that I use quotation marks is because it’s hard to tell whether her character is supposed to be fake crying or real crying. It’s only at the end of the scene that I was able to realize that the character was in fact actually crying. Although I keep mentioning that I won’t reference the book, I’m feel obligated to do so now. This scene was far more powerful in the book. It was the moment that Starr truly rids herself of Hailey’s negativity. This scene should have been a powerful scene, but was instead, nothing but a cringey moment. I actually started laughing in the theater because the acting was so horrendous. It really annoyed me that someone allowed such an awful scene to be put in this epic movie. This should have been a scene where we witness a major development in Starr’s character as she stands up to her “friend.” Instead, the scene was overshadowed by Carpenter’s atrocious acting.

Maya (Megan Lawless), Starr (Amandla Stenberg), and Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter) at Williamson Prep.

Besides the last scene that should never be mentioned again, the rest of the movie succeeded in conveying it’s powerful message. The cast was genuine in their roles and made it seem effortless.

The Hate U Give presents a serious issue that has gone unnoticed for far too long- police brutality against minorities. Leaving the theater, dried tears stuck to my face, I felt empowered and touched. The Hate U Give inspires our generation to find our voice and speak out against the injustices of our society. Starr Carter may just go down in history as she has taught us that it only takes one voice to bring change.

Although I definitely recommend this movie to everyone, I do ask that you read the book before watching the movie. The book delves much deeper into the issues presented in the movie and provides far more details. As the saying goes, “The book is always better than the movie!”

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