Starr (Amandla Stenberg) has two versions of her self. Starr 1 lives in a poor neighborhood with her parents, Maverick and Lisa (Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall) and her two brothers, Seven, (Lamar Johnson) and Sekani (TJ Wright) Starr 2 attends a predominantly white private school where she, in her own words "gives no one a reason to call her ghetto." One night at a party, she ends up being the lone witness to the fatal shooting of her friend, Khalil (Algee Smith) after a white police officer pulls them over and mistake his hair brush for a weapon. Now Starr is torn between these two versions. Keeping her head down, and not bringing any heat on her loved ones, or speaking up for her friend who can no longer speak for himself.
I haven't read the popular YA novel on which this is based, so I can't compare how well it was adapted, but director George Tillman Jr. did make an excellent film here. In a world where an alarming amount of people still don't understand what Black Lives Matter is about, I hope they watch this. The Hate U Give isn't here to sugar coat anything, although it does fall victim to having some supporting players come off as caricatures.
And that's another depressing part. I want to write off Starr's ignorant white classmate, Hailey as a caricature, but there are girls everywhere just like her. Just like there are cops who make the same excuses Starr's policeman Uncle does.
I cried over Amandla Stenberg as Rue in the Hunger Games, and now she made me cry five more times in this movie alone. She's wonderful and she carries this film with such grace. She masters flipping back and forth into her versions, her smile is infectious during the scenes where we get to see Starr happy and you can feel hear rage and fear when she's finally had enough. Russell Hornsby also gives a great performance as her father. A man that wants to do right by his kids and make sure they don't fall into the same drug dealing life he did. I loved Starr's entire family. She at one point refers to her parents as her OTP and I don't blame her. I love seeing a dynamic like that.
I think The Hate U Give may have an uphill battle at the box office. (Though my theater was full) Plenty of ignorant movie goers are going to write this off as a cop hating movie and I truly hope they don't. I hope they see it and listen. Listen and understand.
Memorable Quote: "You're the worst person to watch Harry Potter with; you say it's about gang theory." - Starr (Amandla Stenberg)