09th Nov2018

‘The Hate U Give’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, Common, Algee Smith, Sabrina Carpenter, K.J. Apa, Dominique Fishback, Lamar Johnson, TJ Wright, Megan Lawless, Rhonda Johnson Dents, Tony Vaughn | Written by Audrey Wells | Directed by George Tillman Jr.

hate-give-poster

Starr Carter 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.

George Tillman, Jr’s The Hate U Give, at its fingertips, has the powerful visual/thematic resonation and emotional intensity of any masterpiece in African American cinema that has come before it. Evoking the cultural implications in a racist society and oppression of police brutality, being a minority – in the likes of the early 90s masterwork of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing or John Singleton’s haunting epic Boyz n the Hood. But what made Lee’s and Singleton’s films all the more haunting and impactful in the overall canon is the fact both films were, and still are, incredibly raw and poignant in the realities of their situation, with authentic screenplays and pitch-perfect performances. Of which The Hate U Give struggles to be on par with or even replicate to a standard that can be compared to the influential masterpieces that came before it.

The concept and story are undeniably raw and genuine – in a world still rocked by police brutality and racial oppression and the conviction of such issues are fiercely realistic. The Hate U Give unfortunately only goes so far with the consequential, and more impactful, themes of brutality and double standard ruling by the police and at a governmental level. Only barely touching upon the negative impact of injustice and social media at a teenage level, especially the sequences that revolve around the school Starr Carter attends. Not avoiding the subject entirely but only touching it with a slight interest, which is made the more unfortunate with the horrendous writing showcased – made up of either monologue after monologue or outrageously obtuse unrealistic dialogue for teenagers by writers Audrey Wells and Angie Thomas.

By focusing on such bland sequences The Hate U Give sidelines the major haunting moment of the film that ultimately sets off the course of events. Only to retort in exploring smaller inconsequential issues of low-level crooks, which are contextually relevant but creates unremarkable atmosphere and engagement, pulling away from the biggest themes and not focusing on the devastatingly apparent problem that not only devastates and thrives at a state level but a national epidemic that has rocked the country since its birth.

The Hate U Give is in cinemas now.

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