The Hate U Give (4 stars)

The Hate U Give

This adaptation of Angie Thomas' novel is a superior teen movie with a powerful message

On first glance, George Tillman Jr's The Hate U Give looks just another teen movie about high school, prom and boyfriends. After all, Angie Thomas' 2017 book, the source for this drama, was marketed as a Young Adult novel. Yet the themes delved into here are rich and complex.

Amandla Stenberg, who already ticked the YA box with The Darkest Minds, takes the lead as Starr Carter, an African-American high school girl whose parents choose to educate her at a predominantly white private school. There, her white classmates use black slang, and she feels at odds with their world of privilege.

Back home, her family includes mother Lisa (Regina Hall), ex-con father Maverick (Russell Hornsby) — who teaches his kids how to conduct themselves in front of the police for fear of violent retribution — and her uncle Carlos (Common) who became a cop. Locally, drug dealer King (Anthony Mackie) still holds sway over her father.

Yet the plot really bites when Starr and her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith) are stopped by a cop for a minor motoring offence. After making an innocent movement, Khalil is shot dead by the trigger-happy cop and Starr is the sole witness. Will she speak out about what she saw? Understandably, she's reluctant to put herself under such huge scrutiny, despite what it means for her community.

Arriving in the era of well-documented police attacks on unarmed black males, The Hate U Give is a potent reminder of the complexities of a world overrun with racial and class divides. With its provocative title a reference to rapper Tupac Shakur's THUG LIFE mantra ("The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone"), it will stir debate long after the credits roll. Led from the front-lines by the excellent Stenberg, this is a teen movie but not as you know it.

General release from Mon 22 Oct.

The Hate U Give

  • 4 stars
  • 2018
  • US
  • 2h 12min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: George Tillman Jr.
  • Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby
  • UK release: 22 October 2018

Starr (Stenberg) is an African-American high school girl who goes to a predominantly white private school, and who becomes the only witness to her childhood friend being shot by a trigger-happy cop. An unexpectedly rich and complex teen movie, a potent reminder of the complexities of a world full of racial and class…