I’ve been actively watching the book community on YouTube for several years now and I credit them a whole lot for introducing me to what I now consider some of my favorite books of all time. One of those books happens to be The Hate U Give, which I read soon after its release in early 2017, thanks to the hype surrounding it within the BookTube community. Ever since I first read it, The Hate U Give has held a very special place in my heart and so when I found out that the film rights had been sold, I was both terrified and unbelievably excited. I think every bookworm is familiar with the murky feelings surrounding book-to-movie adaptions and this story was definitely no exception. But, that being said, I trust Angie Thomas a lot, and after becoming more familiar with the cast and the production process, my weariness around the film adaptation started to diminish.
“Starr Carter is a young high school student who lives a normal life in the suburb all-black district of Garden Heights with her family and boyfriend Chris, who is white. Starr attends Williamson, an all-white school and is popular among the other students.
One night, Starr visits a local house party and runs into her childhood friend Khalil. While driving her home after the party, Khalil is pulled for inspection. In an unforgettable turn of events, Khalil is gunned down in front of a horrified Starr when the policeman mistakenly thinks he’s a criminal. And in the aftermath of his death and funeral, citizens all over the city begin to demand justice leaving the traumatized but courageous Starr to find her voice and speak the truth.”
DIRECTOR: George Tillman Jr.
WRITERS: Audrey Wells, Angie Thomas
STARRING: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Common, Anthony Mackie
RUNNING TIME: 132 minutes
RELEASE DATE: October 19, 2018
Last night, I finally ended up watching the film and I’m happy to report that my expectations were not only met, but they were highly exceeded. Even though I’m obviously a strong believer in always reading the book first, this story is so crucial to our modern day society that, even if you’ve never heard of the book before, I think watching and supporting the film is utterly important. If, for whatever reason, you need more convincing than that, here’s 5 reasons why you should watch The Hate U Give:
1. THE ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’ MOVEMENT IS MORE THAN JUST A TRENDING TOPIC.
I realize just how absurd the statement above sounds, because obviously it’s more than that, right? Well, unfortunately, a lot of individuals these days get way too caught up in the ‘trending’ topics – solely caring about and bringing awareness to them for a certain amount of time, until the hype around them dies down; then, they simply move on to the next big thing. What’s so absolutely heartbreaking to me is that lots of people fail to realize that police brutality has been a reality for a great portion of the African American community for quite some time now, and it’s only gotten worse with time, as we’ve sadly witnessed these past few years. What some fail to realize is that, just because it now has an organized and official title – Black Lives Matter – doesn’t mean that the cause the movement fights for has not been a present issue for years on end. Although upsetting to think about, it’s the harsh reality so many are sheltered from, and I think The Hate U Give does a marvelous job at highlighting the true meaning behind this lasting fight for social justice within this group. Through Starr’s Garden Heights community, you’re introduced to how this topic has impacted similar and very-real communities in our very own lives.
2. THE SCRIPT, THE ACTING, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN.
Like I mentioned earlier, I was rather scared about how they were going to go about creating the film adaptation. The Hate U Give is so special in the way it handles such a sensitive and raw subject and I was crossing my fingers for that to be effectively translated into the film. Spoiler alert, it was. Audrey Wells (RIP) did a seamless job at making sure every crucial part of the source material was included, even adding some new yet surprisingly fitting details of her own. I genuinely don’t think they could have chosen a more perfect cast to portray this set of characters. Amandla Stenberg’s portrayal of our protagonist, Starr, was immaculate – almost as if Angie Thomas had written the role with her in mind, instead of casting Amandla after the fact. Stenberg never missed a beat when it came to bringing Starr to life; she did so in the most unapologetically authentic way and I truly think it made the difference between this film being just ‘good’ vs ‘fantastic.’ Also – Russell Hornsby? New favorite actor. Hands down.
3. REPRESENTATION MATTERS.
If audiences showed up for The Hate U Give like they showed up for Black Panther, it’d be a total win. I’m all about supporting projects created by and starring groups of people who don’t typically get the opportunity to be in the spotlight – mostly minorities and underrepresented communities. The Hate U Give‘s source material was written by a WOC author, and the film was created by and starred mostly POC individuals. Not only that, but the narrative is about a massive issue that has previously affected and continues to affect African American communities all over the United States; an issue that needs to be talked about. The more support movies like these receive, the bigger the chance of production companies being willing to pick up other similar projects. Put your money where your mouth is and go support this film.
4. A MOVIE NOT AFRAID OF SHOWING HEART. AND EVEN A LITTLE HUMOR.
Giving the fact that such a heavy topic is the subject at hand, you would not expect for there to be any type of humor in the film, but that’s actually quite the opposite. Audrey Wells managed to slide in numerous uniquely funny moments that Angie Thomas’ had previously managed to sprinkle in throughout the length of the novel, giving the film a distinct balance. The small lighthearted moments offered a much-needed break from the intensity of the rest of the film. One of my favorite moments is definitely when Russell Hornsby’s character, Maverick, meets Chris for the first time (Bless KJ and his willingness to be completely submerged in the quirkiness and sweetness of his character). Just like the humor, The Hate U Give also offers an endless amount of heartwarming scenes. Yes, there’s a lot of intense moments given the story’s subject matter, but amidst all of those, we are shown utterly vulnerable and emotional moments between characters (my favorites usually included those between Starr and Maverick), most of which left me a sobbing mess. Oh yeah, bring tissues to the theater with you…trust me, you’ll need them.
5. IT’S MORE THAN JUST A SOCIAL JUSTICE FILM.
Aside from the fact that The Hate U Give focuses a great deal on social justice issues, like police brutality and racism, there’s no denying that the film touches on various other themes and ideas that leave you having learned some very important lessons by the end of its 132 minute run. Friendship and family are two aspects of life that The Hate U Give strongly focuses on, highlighting how important it is to be a good friend and to be there for your family members, no matter the circumstances. Finding your voice, purpose, and inner-strength are also key topics heavily included within the storyline. Following Starr’s journey of self-discovery is not only unbelievably rewarding, but the audience can also take a lot away from it.
The Hate U Give is a heartbreakingly important film that highlights the importance of talking about, not only the Black Lives Matter movement, but similar social issues, as well. It’s harsh, raw, and remorselessly authentic and it serves as a great example of our current reality. Go watch it…show up for this film – it’s out in theaters now!