The Hate U Give, is a new addition to the cinematic documentation of police brutality in the USA. Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) finds her world flipped upside down when she witnesses the murder of her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith) by a white police officer. Throughout the film Starr navigates the responsibility that comes with being the only witness to the shooting as well as juggling the problems that life places in your path when you are a sixteen year old black girl still trying to understand her place in the world.
From its time in conception to its release, the film has been surrounded by several controversies. The most prevalent relating to the casting of Stenberg as opposed to that of a darker skinned actress, but more recently the disclaimer article written by Melina Abdullah and Patrisse Khan-Cullors (one of the Black Lives Matter Founders) explicitly stating that The Hate U Give should not be hailed as a “BLM” film, given such production elements like the involvement of a white screenwriter (the late Audrey Wells) and involvement of film giants Fox Studios.
These issues may serve as an explanation to some of the weaker aspects of the film; namely the lack of nuance which occasionally led to the oversimplification of major themes. Microaggressions, casual racism and teenage activism are presented at a surface level, and the characters are shown to either fit into a “right” or “wrong” box taking away from the complexities that could be offered up to the audience as food for thought.
Nonetheless, The Hate U Give should be applauded for its handling of such an important story. It’s not often that we are asked to consider those left behind to deal with the consequences of police shootings, particularly the black women who in the aftermath of such tragedies use their voices to speak up for those who can no longer do so.
Film Rating: 3/5.