No Concessions: “#TheHate UGive” familiar; still powerful

Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel illustrated an all-too common narrative of injustice wrought by those licensed to serve and protect. And while the tale is nothing new, it works to educate all on why we should never silence our voices, or hide our light, for what is right.
Stenberg with Algee Smith who plays friend and newest hashtagged name – Khalil Harris. Courtesy of
Directed by George Tillman Jr., the film centers on sixteen-year old Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a Chicagoan from the rough streets of Garden Heights who escapes inner city blues by attending the prestigious Williamson High. She keeps these two worlds separate until she’s the lone witness to her childhood friend’s murder by a police officer. Ripped from the headlines, we view Starr’s journey from silent victim to loud victor in efforts to seek justice and humanity for her community. Stenberg is strong in one of her better performances since The Hunger Games. The supporting cast is excellent as well boasting Regina Hall, Common, Algee Smith and Issa Rae. The standout performance however goes to Russell Hornsby (Grimm, Seven Seconds) as Starr’s father Maverick. The reformed drug dealer commands your attention in every scene, elevating the character beyond the page’s expectations.
Honsrby, Hall, Stenberg and Common in a tense scene. Courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter
As all book adaptations, there were liberties taken with the story. Some characters and scenarios were omitted. Starr’s grandmother mysteriously disappears, as well as DeVante. I also wished we had received more of the dynamic between Hornsby’s Maverick and Common’s police officer Uncle Carlos. Anthony Mackie as King, the neighborhood drug kingpin, under-delivers. And an alternative scene near the end may go either way with those who have read the novel. It isn’t bad, but definitely unexpected. Despite not breaking new ground, The Hate U Give captures this generation’s civil rights movement – just as Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing summarized the same issue in 1989. And we will continue seeing art in this vein until real change ends these societal issues.

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