The novel adaptation THE HATE U GIVE received little attention at the box office, but delighted US critics. What does the film, which is close to the pulse of the times, have to offer besides its racism theme? We approach this in our review!
The Plot Summary
Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) practically leads a double life: The 16-year-old lives with her family in the predominantly black neighborhood of Garden Heights, but she attends the private school Williamson Prep., which is outside her home area and is attended by almost only white people. Although Starr doesn’t have to listen to any hostility in her everyday school life, it’s still a gauntlet for her as she has to integrate inconspicuously so as not to be pigeonholed. That’s why Starr has never taken her boyfriend, a white classmate named Chris (KJ Apa), home with her. When Starr wants to drive home from a party one evening with her best childhood friend, the always relaxed Khalil Harris (Algee Smith), the two are stopped by the police. One of the white officers finds Khalil’s behavior, as he tries to defuse the situation with casual gestures, suspicious and orders him to get out of the car. When Khalil continues to talk to the visibly nervous Starr in the passenger seat, the situation escalates…
Movie explanation of the ending
Globally, George Tillman Junior’s “The Hate U Give,” based on the novel of the same name by writer Angie Thomas, has grossed just over $32 million to date. This makes the brand-new, $23 million youth and social drama more of a failure than a success for 20th Century Fox on an economic level – which is in drastic contrast to the response from US critics: in the run-up to the US cinema release, the US media was overwhelmed with praise, In some cases there was even talk of Oscar chances. The fact that Fox subsequently released the film like an Oscar contender, with a limited and gradually expanding number of copies, instead of like a “normal” youth book adaptation, may have been its downfall, as this made it difficult for the film to find its young target audience. And so the star of “The Hate U Give” burned out again after a short, intense media attention – without a single subsequent Oscar nomination.
Starr (Amandla Stenberg) and her childhood friend Khalil (Algee Smith).
It’s a bitter irony that this disturbing piece of cinema may have sunk in part because the marketing made it look like “The Hate U Give” protagonist. Because Starr Carter is always busy switching codes and behaving differently depending on the expectations of those around her: Amandla Stenberg’s (“You next to me”) Young people played with magnetic charisma and stunning versatility are forbidden in their school, among other things, youth slang and obvious affection for hip hop or R’n’B. Because what is hip and cool among her classmates would put her in danger of being a black stereotype. In her neighborhood, however, she always has to question whether she might be expressing herself too selectively, because anything that would make others appear eloquent and smart could earn her the accusation of trying to stand out from those who don’t go to private school. Stenberg emphatically conveys subtle and not-so-subtle code-switching with vocal tone, posture and looks. Through her acting alone, she explains a complex topic that people who are part of the (supposed) majority rarely think about, even though it is a significant issue for many people.
In general, the scenes in the first act are very self-explanatory, which is why the voiceover narrative comments occasionally seem as if Tillmann and screenwriter Audrey Wells are seriously underestimating their audience. The beginning of the film could have done with significantly less classifying comments, and towards the end of the film the narrative voice also dampens the emotional and socio-political harshness of what was previously shown – but the narrative commentary cannot be completely dispensed with. Especially in the middle section, they are written in a catchy way and provide additional context and introspectiveness in Starr’s tumult of thoughts. Because after a traumatic encounter with racist police officers, Starr questions for the first time everything that she had previously accepted with a cowering inner attitude: that for her, “The Conversation” was not what white people mean by it (the often embarrassing moment of sexual education), but rather her father’s urgent instructions on how she, as a black woman, should behave during police checks. That she has to constantly question her behavior at school because she is afraid that she will otherwise be unfairly pigeonholed, even though those who judge people too quickly have to justify themselves. That a black neighborhood is immediately perceived by society as a socially disadvantaged neighborhood, which sets off a chain reaction that maintains stigmas. That no one dares to take action against drug dealer King (Marvel star Anthony Mackie) because he has “helped” so many in the neighborhood, which leads to him being able to spread his power and “help” even more people…
Starr is trying to raise awareness among the masses about the issue of police violence.
It’s probably already clear: “The Hate U Give” opens with code switching, then takes on police brutality and then works its way through a gigantic, burning complex of social issues. Perhaps “The Hate U Give” even takes on too much, because even if it is necessary to point out institutionalized misalignments between whites and non-whites and to outline vicious circles of stigma, it is necessary to go into why a life of crime occurs is attractive to some marginalized young people, the film elevates itself because of how it does it: Whenever Mackie’s stoically played King is the focus of a film passage, “The Hate U Give” moves into a different subgenre that the film doesn’t know how to use . “The Hate U Give” is firmly anchored in Starr’s life situation and perspective on the social structure – and the way Tillman focuses the film on the well-meaning young people, disappointed by society and struggling with their inner rebel, there is only room for defused portrayals , cliched gangster gestures, which makes Mackie’s character an out-of-place pull-off.
Rapper Common is even stronger (“Career Day with obstacles”) as Starr’s Uncle Carlos, a police officer who sets out to act as a mediator, but reveals his own duplicity without batting an eyelid in a spine-tingling monologue. Also Regina Hall (“Scary Movie”) and Russell Hornsby (“Fences”), who play Starr’s parents, are convincing – they seem to balance effortlessly between the rare scenes of comfort in “The Hate U Give” and the otherwise youth-friendly, yet drivingly dramatic tone of the film. Based on Starr, this novel adaptation argues how serious and far-reaching the racism problem is (not only) in the USA and how much still needs to be done. The fact that “The Hate U Give” switches back two gears again after a scene of escalation that was dynamically and enthrallingly implemented by Tillmann, cameraman Mihai Mălaimare Junior and the editors Alex Blatt & Craig Hayes is a bit of a shame, but also tonally consistent, as the film is consistent throughout wants to argue for an early peace – unlike the even more politically committed “Assassination Nation” or “BlacKkKlansman”, who approach the matter of injustice with more (understandable) frustration.
It is the last moment between the two friends before a catastrophe occurs.
Conclusion: “The Hate U Give” is a brand-new youth and social drama that thrives on the strong performance of Amandla Stenberg in the lead role and, despite minor flaws, remains memorable.
“The Hate U Give” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from February 28, 2019.