Review: The Hate U Give (San Diego Film Festival)

Title: The Hate U Give
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: George Tillman
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall
Runtime: 2 hrs 13 mins
What It Is: Starr Carter lives a dual life as a black teen in her predominantly Black neighborhood, and as a “safe black” teen in her white upper-class private school.

What We Think: The theatre was silent for most of the film, as the audience sat through a lesson that most didn’t know they even needed. George Tillman’s excellently paced version of The New York Times bestseller delves deep into our Americanized psyches and forces us to confront each and every one of the excuses made for covering our ears. From the moment Maverick Carter (Russell Hornsby) sits his children down to have “the talk” we are given an intimate look into the struggles affecting Black people in America. Hornsby does an amazing job of portraying former gang member Maverick as both the man that he has become and the man that accepts his challenge amongst prejudicial norms. Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) leads us further down the rabbit hole of divisive acceptance of people of color in her detailed description of her two worlds. From the strength and voice embodied to her from her strong Black family, and how she must mute it for acceptance into her Anglo dominated school environment. One Starr for those like her, and one Starr for those that would judge her. Stenberg allows Starr to evolve from a girl following the lessons of her father out of obedience, to truly understanding the base of his many taught lessons. Amongst Hornsby’s Oscar-worthy role and Stenberg’s amazing portrayal, like the actors that fill the story with its relevance and reminders. Anthony Mackie’s terrifying portrayal of the gang boss King, whose stare follows Starr and reminds her of the terrors that await at home. Sabrina Carpenter’s balance of white woman feminism and cultural appropriation tell the tale of selective politics amongst the privileged. Officer Carlos Carter’s (Common) response reminds the audience how deeply ingrained our prejudice is in our countries mentality.

Our Grade: A, It’s source material was a National bestseller for its astoundingly accurate portrayal of the Black experience in America, and George Tillman does just that in its transition to the big screen. Not a moment is lost in the story, each a piece of the very Americana institution people are pushing to change is presented for the viewer’s thoughts. From All Lives Matter to the idea of allies is laid out for the audience by Tillman in the most unprejudicial of ways. He allows no question that the story is biased, or meant to villanize non-Black people. Tillman presents the Black experience in America and all the weight that it brings.

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