Tuesday, June 9, 2020

The Hate U Give - Movie Review

The Movie: The Hate U Give

The Director: George Tillman, Jr.

The Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Issa Rae, Common, Algee Smith, Sabrina Carpenter, K.J. Apa, Lamar Johnson

The Story: Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressure from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right.

The Review:
This movie very much feels like a modern day Boyz N Da Hood, John Singleton's iconic film that started an era of "hood" movies as they were perceived back in the early 90's. Sadly the same topics of police brutality, racism, and black on black crime explored in that film are just as relevant and prevalent today as they were back then. In fact, they have always been an unfortunate and unacceptable part of American culture and society and it seems like no matter how many protests, how many marches, and how many speeches take place, racism somehow remains to rear its ugly head.

The novel this movie is based on, written by Angie Thomas, seems like it may have been predicting the future considering what the world looks like right now, but really it is more of a reminder about what black people see day in and day out. Tillman brings out the frustration and exhaustion of a family who is constantly facing fear, aggression, and oppression from all angles. The parents, played exquisitely by Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall do everything they can to provide for their children while teaching them how to live in a world that is constantly in opposition to their hopes and dreams.

In the Starring role (Yes, that's an intended pun) is Amandla Stenberg who plays a teenager who witnesses one of her best friends being gunned down and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop that is anything but routine. She is so good in this role and hits every note perfectly from understated moments of realization to verbally blasting every ounce of emotion possible into a street already filled with protest and aggression. I have no doubt that this performance will be looked at as a major jumping off point for a long and stories career.

For me, one of the things that really hit home for me was how familiar this story is yet it is given to us with a completely new perspective. The topics of racism and police brutality are things we are unfortunately all too familiar with as there are so many examples, it's honestly quite sickening. What Tillman shows us are things like how strong the family bond can be, how important it is for parents to practice what they preach, and just how prevalent racism is in just about every aspect of everyone's lives. Racism and hate or so ingrained in American culture, values, society, politics, and in every neighborhood that we are often blind to its existence because it's so normalized.

What can we do about this? Tillman also shows us there are no easy answers although we are far better human beings when we are loving each other, trusting each other, communicating with each other, and believing in each other. The story is filled with sadness, anger, and frustration but there is also hope and we are left feeling like there is possibility available in our future and of course that black lives do matter. No matter how much hate we give, love will also be right there waiting.

The Verdict:
The Hate U Give is powerful storytelling. It is important storytelling and it should be considered essential viewing for anyone looking to understand why protests are necessary, why wholesale change is necessary, and why Black. Lives. Matter.

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