The Hate U Give
A 16-year-old girl starts to find her voice after she witnesses the fatal police shooting of her childhood friend.
It’s never easy coming to terms with the loss of a loved one, but for 16-year-old Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), the death of her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith) is indescribably traumatic.
Khalil is shot by a police officer - someone who is supposed to protect citizens from danger.
He was not accosted for committing a crime and was not behaving threateningly; and as Starr is restrained and helpless as she watches Khalil die, she knows that this tragedy would never have occurred if he had been white.
As the only witness to Khalil’s murder, Starr is left deliberating whether to publicly speak out against the media’s flawed version of events.
To do so would risk putting herself and her family in danger from gang leader King (Anthony Mackie), who employed Khalil as a drug dealer and fears his criminality could be outed if Starr opens up.
Meanwhile, over at her predominantly-white private school, the last thing Starr wants is to draw attention to herself when she works so hard every day to fit in.
She has a voice, but is she brave enough to use it?
Based on the novel of the same name by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give is an unflinching look at the structural racism of today, which takes its title from Tupac’s 'Thug Life' concept – The Hate U Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody.
We’ve read the news headlines, we’ve heard of Black Lives Matter, but this powerful story forces us to see beyond the words and wake up to the appalling reality with compassion, empathy and plenty of tears.
Aside from the heartbreaking police brutality, The Hate U Give also lays bare many other aspects of the black experience such as code-switching (Starr has to conform to her white peers at school, but avoid anything that could be deemed ‘too white’ at home), navigating ignorance and white privilege in day-to-day life, and the conflict between identity and adapting to the status quo in order to survive.
For example, Starr’s father Maverick (played brilliantly by Russell Hornsby) has to school his three children on how to behave in the presence of the police, while simultaneously reminding them, in spite of this prejudice, to be proud of their skin.
Though all this emotive content sounds like a tough couple of hours, The Hate U Give is full of light, hope and humour thanks to Starr’s sweet but tricky romance with her boyfriend Chris (KJ Apa), banter with her brothers Seven and Sekani (Lamar Johnson and TJ Wright) and touching conversations with her mother (Regina Hall) and father. There’s much sadness, but there are plenty of smiles too.
Thomas has previously stated that she wrote the character of Starr with Stenberg in mind and therefore couldn’t see anyone else playing the part, and truthfully, nobody else could have pulled this off quite like her.
The 20-year-old gives an absolutely astonishing turn as she seamlessly projects rage and grief with unbelievable intensity, hitting every single beat in Starr’s brave and inspiring journey.
Anchored by a sensational central performance by Stenberg, The Hate U Give is an immensely affecting and captivating work that will open your eyes, and maybe even make you think it’s time to use your own voice too.
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