A review of the important new film “The Hate U Give”

What a change and what a delight to see an American mainstream movie where virtually all the characters are people of colour: young as well as older, female as well as male, gay as well as straight. And how impressive that a film with a young person’s focus addresses so directly and fairly the issue of race relations in today’s America.

The central character is 16 year old Starr Carter who lives in a poor black neighbourhood but attends a largely white private school and attempts to staddle these two contrasting worlds until a violent death shakes up her life and beliefs. Amandla Stenberg is excellent in a role that carries the film but her voice-overs remind us that the origin of the script is a young adult novel by first-time author African-American Angie Thomas. The film is the directorial debut of African-American George Tillman Jr so, one way and another, a lot of new black talent is on show here and it is impressive.

Not since “Detroit” have not seen a movie which brings home so vividly what it is like to be a young black person at the mercy of a white police officer. “Detroit” portrayed real events in 1967, whereas this work is fictional, but the storyline reflects the experience of so many prominent and controversial police killings of young blacks in contemporary America that has given rise to the movement Black Lives Matter.

The film does not hide its support for the movement but uses a black cop to explain the viewpoint of the white cop facing a black youth who might be armed and about to kill him. Whites are not the enemy here – Starr’s white boyfriend is both understanding and supportive – but the movie highlights dramatically the routine abuse of power by the police and the unresponsiveness of authority to black voices and concerns.


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