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The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give: Starr Carter is a high school student who lives in Gardner Heights, the area of the city where primarily Black and African-American families live but who attends a mostly White high school, Williamson Prep, in a more affluent neighborhood in the city. Starr feels that she has to straddle two different worlds, changing the way she looks and speaks to fit into each. The complexity of that negotiation comes to a head when she witnesses her long-time childhood friend shot by a police officer during a “routine” traffic stop. This is an excellent film, perhaps stronger than the recent “Monsters and Men”. The narrative is interesting in how the complex family and social structure reveals itself during the course of the film. Amanda Sternberg steels the film in her portrayal of a young teenager who finds herself trying to make the right decisions as a teenager handling a very adult situation. The acting by others is strong and believable. Sometimes the movie becomes a bit “preachy”, and the family interactions seem a bit too ideal, but right around each corner are scenes that pack surprising, incredible, and sometimes heartbreaking emotional punches. There are enough of those that make you feel the reality of the situation as the family is experiencing it. I also liked that the film, better than many, provides multiple perspectives on the shooting and, like “Monsters and Men”, it is about how we rationalize and the weight of the choices that we all must make when faced with life-changing events (and, in this case, an event that most White people probably won’t have to face). Big thumbs up for a film that is super relevant to what is happening now and is a unique twist on the typical coming of age film; it is one that I would recommend for older teenagers to see and to discuss. Kudos to George Tillman, Jr., the director, also directed the wonderful “Soul Food” from many years ago.

About Gary Burkholder

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