“The Hate U Give” brings controversial topics to the table
Alex Ryan, Reporter
“The Hate U Give” brings police brutality, violence, and racism to the table, as viewers watch a teenage girl move through life following the death of her best friend, shot and killed in front of her by a police officer.
Based on the award-winning novel by Angie Thomas, “The Hate U Give” is a well-made movie that gives a true representation of the book.
The movie focuses on Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a high schooler who is torn between two different worlds. Her home in Garden Heights, is a low-income community plagued by drugs and gang violence.
Starr’s parents want a better life for her, but not one that will require her to leave their tight-knit, community-oriented, albeit often-violent town. Because of this, Starr attends a private, upper-class high school with a mostly white student population. This commute to a new town and school adds controversy as Starr encounters new types of people.
Her school is full of students who believe they are in touch with Starr’s world, but are often oblivious to the true nature of her life. The school offers opportunities and safety, but throughout the movie, it serves as a divide between her familial and academic life.
The motif of Starr being a “girl torn between two worlds” is a common theme, but this movie is set apart by the real-world problems laced into the plot. Both worlds are turning their backs on each other while sugar-coating the other’s reality.
Starr’s classmates reject the idea that her home life is difficult, and many do not believe that actual gang violence occurs where she lives. Rather, they only see the qualities they want to see: a warm community of caring, tight-knit people.
Starr’s friend Maya (Sabrina Carpenter) wants to appropriate and adopt Starr’s culture, but Maya sympathizes with the cop that shot Khalil (Algee Smith), saying he must be devastated by the protests and Garden Heights backlash. Frustrating Starr, Maya is offensive and confusing, representing her white classmates’ attempts to be (as they cluelessly put it), “ghetto.”
As the protests from Garden Heights over Khalil’s death grow, Starr finds her voice. As she speaks up for what she believes, the audience begins to see major character growth.
Throughout the movie, Starr also faces racist behavior from her classmates and others as they decide what they should do. Do they fight for what is right, or take the easy way out, turning their backs on Starr and the real-world problems she faces? This message can apply to high schoolers’ everyday lives, in situations ranging from trivial to huge. Just as in the book, the audience grows closer with Starr, and they watch her first learn and then fight for what she believes. The movie effectively portrays this struggle for life in Starr’s community, closely following most of the book’s narrative.
The movie does lack some important scenes from the book, but it emphasizes more prominent moments that are integral to the plot. The characters are well developed, and I was emotionally moved. While Starr’s narrative creates a conversation about real-world problems, it also shows the daily life of a teenage girl who is fighting racism in her community and spreading greater change across the country.
4 out of 5 stars