Reviews - The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give
Reviewed By Pam Newns
Starr lives with her loving family in Garden Heights, a rundown predominantly black US neighbourhood, The film opens with dad, Maverick, himself a former gang member, giving a younger Starr and her siblings 'the Talk' – not about sex, but about how to behave when pulled over by the cops. Starr's parents want better lives for their children, so send her to Williamson, a predominately white high school in a smarter part of town. For Starr this is problematic – she leads different lives at school and at home.
Amandla Steinberg excels in showing us the conflicted teenager – minding her language and behaviour at school, where she hangs out with friends and her white boyfriend Chris, and never fully fitting in to the black party scene at home. It is at a party that she re-encounters Khalil, shots suddenly ring out, and he rushes her outside to drive her home. But they are pulled over and, as he reaches into the car to retrieve what turns out to be a hairbrush, Khalil is shot dead by a white police officer. Starr is traumatised especially as, when younger, she also saw her friend Natasha shot.
Initially Starr is unable to admit to her involvement in the incident at school and unwilling to testify, fearful of reprisals by local gang leader, King, for whom Khalil was dealing drugs. However,encouraged by a civil rights lawyer, she eventually finds her true voice, standing up for her friend and ultimately her community.
Although the film never quite achieves the nuanced portrayal of the novel, it is true to the spirit of the book, with events seen through Starr's eyes. Particularly well depicted are the family interaction and news footage-style protest marches. The fitting title message is taken from THUG LIFE by rapper Tupac Shakur – "The Hate You Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone".
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