Can we start by saying that Amandla Stenberg’s lead performance in The Hate U Give is absolutely phenomenal? Based on the best-selling book written by Angie Thomas, the director George Tillman Jr. brings us one of the most emotional films of the year. While it is a young adult adaptation, don’t let that fool you into thinking that the movie is clichéd and cheesy. It’s super heavy with its relevant social commentary, and you’re probably going to cry by the end.
Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is stuck between two worlds: a poor black neighbourhood called Garden Heights and Williamson Prep, which is a private high school mostly attended by white people. She has a loving family and a caring boyfriend, yet she still feels conflicted within herself. After hanging out with her childhood best friend Khalil (Algee Smith), she sees him tragically get shot by a police officer. Feeling lots of grief over her loss, she decides to do something about it and make her voice heard regarding this devastating event.
While the story is undeniably fascinating, the cast is the best part of the entire film. Amandla Stenberg is a great actress, and she will be remembered for her lead role as Starr. She carries the movie from start to finish, and she has what it takes to bring some emotional and powerful scenes to the table. You completely understand where she’s coming from, which makes her a relatable and likeable character. She also has great chemistry with KJ Apa, who plays her charming boyfriend Chris, and it’s actually a cute romance between those two. However, her father Maverick (played brilliantly by Russell Hornsby) is a scene-stealer. Whenever he speaks, he’s able to grab your attention right away, and his words are quite inspiring. He even starts off with an influential speech, which makes you realize what type of film you’re about to get.
With a great script written by Audrey Wells, the movie does an amazing job showcasing important aspects such as grief, trauma, and freedom of speech. You don’t even need to read the book to understand what’s going on, because it’s able to stand on its own. These elements are showcased to their fullest, without ever feeling like they’re gratuitous. It’s a strong movie about wanting to make a difference and just being yourself, and that message is noticeable throughout the film. It balances tension and drama quite well, because it never loses focus. Every scene serves its purpose of adding something to the story, and nothing feels left out. What’s also commendable is that anybody can watch this movie and enjoy it. It doesn’t matter what gender and race you are, The Hate U Give can appeal to anyone.
The Hate U Give is a triumphant film showcasing a great message and important values that might resonate with the audience. Amandla Stenberg completely owns her role, and the rest of the cast is also fantastic, especially Russell Hornsby as the scene-stealer. It’s not just a great drama or a great coming-of-age story, it’s an outstanding film on its own. The Hate U Give deserves to be seen by everyone.
The Hate U Give is now playing in theatres.