Go see THE HATE U GIVE. It’s only in 37 theaters right now across the country (those of you that live near me its playing at Cinemark West Plano), it expands in two weeks wide, but I don’t care when you do, just see it. You want to know when you can tell a movie is really that good, that it hit everyone in the room emotionally and you can tell everyone thought it was something special. When you look to your left and your right, see some individuals that might interrupt your movie going experience by talking too much to their neighbor, the crackling of something brought from home, the light up of a screen for a text, but when the movie starts: dead fucking silence. No screen brought up, not even the sound of a pin dropping. And when the movie ends, applause and endless talking to each other afterwards. Even though I was by myself (the screening was sold out though), this was my experience watching The Hate U Give.
It’s a movie that while, yes, it is adapted from a YA novel, it is really something that anyone at any age can get into. I haven’t seen that many films this year that has done it, but this film perfectly balances all of its A plots, B plots, C plots, etc. evenly where they all culminate at the end organically. I cared about and emphathized with all of the protagonists and I like some of the twists they threw at some of the characters. I thought some of their actions down the line would stack up to cliches, and while one or two do, there are a couple of characters where I had no idea that they would travel down unique paths in their story.
Not to get too much into plot, but the movie is about a girl named Starr that while she lives in the bad part of town, her and her brother are sent to this predominately white prep school, because most of the kids that go to the regular high school don’t end up down a good path in life. She tells us and shows us that she has one life with her family and friends living in that bad neighborhood, and one at the school where she is actually dating a white student that really cares about her. Anyway, at this party, she meets up with a old friend from her childhood that she shares a deep tragedy with (and was her first crush). She goes down at the party and he offers to drive her home. A white police officer pulls them over, and the friend shows some resistance because he got pulled over for no reason, and when trying to impress Starr with his cool demeanor and making sure she’s ok, while he’s outside the car he is shot to death by the officer, thinking he had a weapon, but just shooting first before even saying anything. Anyway, he dies and the town goes into an uproar, as not only that Starr has to deal with her inner turmoil after the event, but new racial tensions that stretch from her neighborhood to the school. She also has to decide whether she wants to reveal herself as the witness and testify to try and get the officer indicted with a grand jury, but to do that, she might have to reveal that her friend was a drug dealer for a local gang, that used to have close ties to her father.
Sounds really interesting right? It is. It really is. Every minute of this film captivated me on screen. The film is 2 hours and 12 minutes long, but only feels like it is 90 minutes. During the movie I was looking for places that the movie could trim, but I couldn’t find any. The movie EARNS its very, very important message. It doesn’t tell you what the message is and then tries to knock it into your brain over and over again. It shows and presents that message, and then carefully peels layer after layer, viewing all aspects of racial tension and how maybe as a country we can get better. And before you go all gung ho on the movie and say the movie doesn’t bring up how hard a cops job is and what it entails to read a situation, don’t worry, the movie gets into that too with a great dialogue between Starr and her cop uncle that is played by Common.
Starr is played by Amandla Stenberg, who you will primarily know her from playing Rue in the original Hunger Games. She was also in last year’s ok EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING, and for some reason decided to do that mutant YA disaster THE DARKEST MINDS that went quickly in and out of theaters two months ago. Well here, she is masterful. If I had my way, she would be a shoo in for a nomination come Oscar season. Unfortunately the Oscars are mostly blind to movies and performances like these, it’s a shame, but maybe this film will have legs and the Academy will have no choice other than to take a look. I haven’t read the book, but I would also give a nomination to screenwriter Audrey Wells, who tragically just died Thursday, a day before the movie came out limited. The dialogue is fantastic, the characterization is perfect, and I’m sure if I read the screenplay page by page, it would be tighter than (insert someone’s asshole here joke).
I loved the little things the film did to subert my expectations. I could’ve sworn that the white boyfriend was going to be the one to turn out to be racist or something or be completely ignorant to racial tension, but no, this kid was actually smart, kind, and willing to do anything for Starr, I was really impressed. The racial ignorance went to another character that I sort of saw coming. I know Anthony Mackie is in this, but his role is kind of limited to playing the kingpin drug dealer, and he only has a few scenes, but those moments reminded me of the supporting actor nomination he should’ve gotten for The Hurt Locker so long ago. Props should be given to Russell Hornsby, who plays Starr’s dad. His moments are tear inducingly great, and he gave the film even more of a truer heart than it already had.
So why are all of you on Facebook falsely singing A Star Is Born’s praises? Yes, it is still a good film, but you all are acting like it is the Titanic of 2018. No, A Star Is Born is not that original, this is the third remake for fuck’s sake!! Instead, get your ignorant movie watching ass out to see The Hate U Give whenever it comes to a theater near you. It is deservedly one of the year’s best films.