The Hate U Give Movie Review


Ruby Bernier, Opinion Writer

The Hate U Give follows 16-year-old African American Starr Carter through her journey with racism in America and police brutality. The film is based on the 2017 book of the same name by author Angie Thomas. The film, starring actors Amandla Stenberg, KJ Apa, and Algee Smith, has been featured in the media for its accurate portrayal of the heartbreaking stories of police brutality victims. With 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie directed by George Tillman Jr. grossed $7,602,108 in its wide opening weekend.
The basis of the plot follows a story we see in society all too often. Teenager Khalil (portrayed by Algee Smith) gets pulled over by a white cop while driving at night. When out of the car, he grabbed a hairbrush, which the cop identified as a gun preceding Khalil being shot and killed. Starr, being the only other witness, struggles with deciding whether to speak up to get justice for her childhood friend or stay silent to protect herself from scrutiny from classmates at her predominantly white high school. Khalil was unarmed and underage. He was profiled and he was discriminated against. The prejudice and stereotypes so many possess cost this young man his life. Khalil represents so many others in the country and the world, and it is imperative that his story is told.  
One scene in the film depicts Starr’s father, Maverick (portrayed by Russell Hornsby), teaching Starr and her brother what to do if they ever get pulled over by a police officer. He instructs them to keep their hands visible on the dashboard and to comply with all orders given to them. Author Angie Thomas based this scene on her own life experience, saying, “When I was 12, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and the bees. The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me.” This is clearly something that happens in everyday life; something that needs to be talked about.
Although the main plot alone is one of extreme importance, the story overall contains more than what meets the eye. Police brutality being Starr’s main struggle throughout the film, issues with gang violence and the concept of code-switching is depicted, code-switching being the act of switching between one language/dialect to another. Starr feels the pressure to switch between fitting in with her family and African American friends in her own community to talking mainstream American English with her white friends at her school. Overall, the film touches on many issues undoubtedly relevant and relatable to black youth everywhere.
Black Lives Matter was founded in 2013, and there’s been little to no big movies about about police brutality up until now. We’ve needed this movie in society for a while now. We’ve needed something to further this conversation, and hopefully this is the thing that can do that. This movie in particular speaks directly to youth, the people who have the power to change things in our country. If we tell these important stories and show the things that we can improve upon, that in itself brings us closer to correcting these issues. The longer we ignore systematic racism, the worse it will get. So, seeing a story like The Hate U Give being spread so widely is a sign of hope.
Not only is it important for films to address stories about police brutality and Black Lives Matter, it is also a necessity to have media with representation. It is so important for young people to have people they can look up to and relate to in television and film. When there’s a character you can truly identify with, you feel cared about and empowered. It’s no secret that minorities have been repeatedly underrepresented in the media, but it seems that recent movies have been working to go against this. The Hate U Give has nearly an entire African American cast, something new and refreshing. Another notable movie to contain a predominantly black cast was early 2018 film Black Panther (directed by Ryan Coogler). Although there’s still a ways to go, movies such as these show a promising future as far as media representation goes.
The Hate U Give spreads an extremely consequential message about where we need to go as a society. Stories like Starr’s and Khalil’s open eyes; they show a perspective that many of us could never have gained otherwise. When shown the impacts of police brutality in mainstream media, especially from the perspective of a black teen, many minds could potentially open and change to address what needs to be done to stop these events from occurring again in the future.