That’s worth saying for a film that takes complex ideas like systemic racism and white privilege and presents it with clarity, bluntness, and emotional honesty. George Tillman Jr.’s “The Hate You Give” is one such film that tackles big ideas in an accessible way, resulting in an exciting, delightful take on what it’s like to be black in America in 2018 drama.
Amandla Steinberg (“The Hunger Games”) plays Starr Carter, a black teenager caught between two worlds—the world of her predominantly white suburban private school, and the world of her hometown, The predominantly black towns suffer from high crime rates and drug abuse. Her parents sent her to private school to free her from the influence of a high local drug dealer, but she found herself denying her identity and pretending to be more “white” to fit in.
But when she witnesses the murder of another black teenager by a white police officer, she begins to seriously question her place in society. Will she come forward and tell the truth about her friend’s murder? Or will she keep silent so as not to cause trouble and be seen by her white friends as a radical from the ghetto?
Police shooting of unarmed black men has become a major cultural issue, especially in recent years. “The Hate You Give” examines their impact on all involved, how they reverberate in families and communities, and fuel the Black community’s historic distrust of police. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the film, however, is how succinctly it articulates ideas of white privilege and racial identity. “I can’t see the color,” Starr’s boyfriend Chris (KJ Apa) insisted at one point. Starr replied, “If you can’t see my darkness, then you can’t see me.”
The title comes from a song by Tupac Shakur, in which the phrase Thug Life stands for “the hatred you give to the little baby F—-Everybody”. As long as children grow up in a world filled with both, the cycle of hate and violence will only continue. While it feels a little too easy to break that cycle in the film, the ideas that lead to that climax are articulated forcefully. Its portrayal of racism, and how it often raises its ugly head in the subtlest of ways, is shockingly direct. The systemic, institutional racism that racist power structures and centuries-old entrenched white supremacy have espoused has become so normal that white people have a hard time recognizing their privilege.
“The Hate U Give” is not an attempt to preach to white people, but an important and profound expression of what it means to be black and why racial identity is so important to historically marginalized groups. It’s a topic few mainstream films touch on, but Tillman does it with humor and grace, and an unmistakable flame that’s hard to shake.
Lifestyles editor Jill Doss-Raines can be reached at (336) 249-3981 ext. 219 or email@example.com.
• ‘The Hate U Give’ is directed by George Tillman Jr. and stars Amandla Stenberg, Lamar Johnson, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, Anthony Mackie, Common, TJ Wright, Issa Rae, Algee Smith, KJ Apa and Sabrina Carpenter. It is rated PG-13 for mature thematic elements, some violent content, drug material and language.
• It was rated three out of four stars.
• Now showing at Cinemark Tinseltown Lexington Cinemas in Salisbury, USA; Grande 18, AMC Hanes 12 and AMC Classic 10, all in Winston-Salem; Regal Palladium Stadium 14 in High Point; Grand 18 Four Seasons, Cinemark Brassfield Cinema 10, AMC Classic 18, Regal Greensboro Grande Stadium 16, Movie Tavern at Four Seasons, Red Cinemas, all in Greensboro.
• Check out the Movie News link under Entertainment on www.the-dispatch.com for showtimes and more.