Sixteen year old Starr Carter (Amandla Sternberg) lives a double life. She lives with her family in the deprived area of Garden Heights. Her neighbours are mostly black and her corner shop owner father, Maverick (Russell Hornsby) has past connections to the local drug lord. In her other life she attends a private school where her peers are almost exclusively white and wealthy. She changes the way she speaks, dresses and acts depending on which group she is with in an attempt to fit in.
One night a party in Garden Heights goes wrong and Starr leaves with her childhood best friend, Khalil (Algee Smith). On their way home Khalil is pulled over by the police and shot dead when they mistake a hairbrush for a gun.
Starr finds herself caught between her two lives and forced to decide whether she is going to take a stand at great personal risk.
The Hate U Give gives an extremely relevant social commentary and provides food for anyone who thinks that white privilege is not a thing. Watching Starr going through a journey of bringing her two lives and her two selves together with the support of parents is empowering and enlightening. It is also somewhat depressing as what Starr’s community experiences is all too common and unlikely to end any time soon. There are some moments that will stick with you for ages. For me it was Maverick teaching his young children how to respond when pulled over by the police.
Sternberg is absolutely radiant and gives a heartfelt and affecting performance. She is definitely a star in the making and does well to carry such an intense story. Hornsby and Regina King (playing Starr’s mother) are also really strong. The conflict between Maverick wanting to stay true to his roots and Lisa desperate to move her children into a better neighbourhood is done really well.
On the downside I am not sure the story line involving, King (Anthony Mackie) the local druglord connected to Khalil adds much to the story. I know the film is based on a book and maybe there is more to it in the novel but for me it didn’t work as well as it could have in the film.
A really good thought-provoking watch that I can highly recommend.