Film Review

‘The Hate U Give’

Grade: 3 and a half stars (out of 4)

Rating: PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some violent content, drug material and language

Running time: 2:12


AP Film Writer

“The Hate U Give “ begins with a scene at the family dinner table where a father is giving his young kids “the talk” – the one in which he explains to his 9-year-old daughter, Starr, and toddler son exactly what to do when they’re pulled over by a police officer. Hands on the dashboard. No sudden movement. Answer the questions directly. Don’t elaborate.

A teenage Starr (played by Amandla Stenberg, who gives an astonishing performance) is narrating this memory. She’s as surprised as the audience is that this “talk” was given at such a young age. But it’s one that will stay imprinted on her.

Directed by George Tillman Jr., “Hate” should be seen by moviegoers of all ages. Starr Carter leads what she describes as a double life. Her home is in Garden Heights, a poor, predominantly black neighborhood that her father, Maverick (Russell Hornsby) loves and feels attached to. Her prep school, Williamson, is wealthy and predominantly white and something that her mother, Lisa (Regina Hall), deems necessary. And she navigates these two versions of herself with self-prescribed decorum for both.

She keeps her white boyfriend Chris (K.J. Apa), and friends (Sabrina Carpenter and Megan Lawless) at a distance from her home life, which she manages pretty well until the night when she witnesses her childhood best friend, Khalil (Algee Smith), get shot by a white police officer at a traffic stop.

Khalil’s killing becomes a national story and Starr is torn about what to do. Testify? Go public? Not only would she be exposing herself to her school pals, but back at home King and his cohorts have threatened her family, fearing that she would put their operation in jeopardy, too. This debate leads to some fascinating conversations – illuminating and disheartening – between various people, including her uncle Carlos (Common), who is also a police officer, and a fiery activist, April (Issa Rae). But the most moving talks are the ones with her family.

If there is any justice in Hollywood, this is the type of film that should make Stenberg a movie star who has her pick of projects.

She’s just magic.

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