The Hate U Give (2018)

I've read 59 books so far this year and Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give easily is the most powerful and emotional of the bunch, so when I learnt that a movie based on it would release this year, I was very excited. Still, I tried to keep my expectations low as adaptations of books I love always suck. Well, this one doesn't. 

The Hate U Give follows Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a 16-year-old black girl constantly switching between two worlds: Garden Heights, the poor, mostly black, neighbourhood where she was born, raised and lives, and Williamson Prep, the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. Her life changes when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil (Algee Smith), at the hand of a white police officer.

Plot-wise, the film isn't perfect as there are several holes, some subplots don't have the same impact they had in the novel, there are moments where the story is a little contrived and sometimes it feels unfocused.

The story, on the other hand, is an important one as it is a haunting, heartbreaking, honest account of what is going on in the United States right now. It shows the impact a murder like this has on the black community —it could be any other community dealing with injustice— and how people close to the victim try to cope with what happened. It takes a serious look at important issues such as police brutality, racism, and black-on-black crime —the consequences of the latter biutifully shown in the film's climax.

It doesn't generalize by suggesting that every single police officer is a brutal racism, nor it states that every single black person is a saint. It's not about sides, it is "simply" about understanding that injustice does happen. And it should not happen. It also states that black lives matter, which doesn't mean that only black lives matter —as Starr's white friend Hailey and unfortunately many people in real life think— but that black lives matter too, along with white lives, and brown lives, and yellow lives, and whatever-you're-skin-colour-is lives. It's about time people understand that the movement is not anti-white nor anti-police, and the film does a good job at showing that.

The Hate U Give also shows how much race plays to one's advantage or disadvantage. There's a scene, one of the most important and harrowing in the film, where Starr's uncle, a black cop, tries to make her see the situation from a cop perspective by telling her that they are just doing their job and they are allowed to use their gun if they see a weapon and basically that he would have done the same. At that point, Starr asks him how he would react if instead of a black man, it was a white man reaching for something, would he shot him or just ask him to put his hands up. Well, Carlos reply is devastating as it shows how far race hatred has gone.

20th Century Fox

Just like the story and its messages, the main character too keeps the depth and development she has in the novel. Starr is the same resilient and authentic young woman who is struggling to find her identity. She is not fearless, but she's definitely brave and such an inspiration to girls, or anyone else really, looking to find their voice. Amandla Stenberg gives a very compelling and powerful performance as she delivers to perfection both the vulnerability and the charisma of the character.

As for the other characters, they don't have a lot of development —DeVante, a character that was crucial to learn more about Khalil and his personality, wasn't even in here, but as Thomas herself said, you don't miss him in the film— but the actors give solid performances nevertheless, especially Russell Hornsby whose portrayal of a father who left his colourful life behind to raise his children and set an example of what a black man should be like is very compelling.


  1. Thanks for recognizing Hornsby's work. Stenberg was great, but for me, he was the compelling thing on the screen everytime he appeared. Very good movie, overall, too.

    1. I had to. I read so many reviews about this film and none mentions him. It's absurd!

  2. I really enjoyed this movie, but I didn't read the book. I read a piece that compared them side by side, I had no idea an entire character was missing until then.