‘The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone.’
*This review contains spoilers*
When I turned the last page of Angie Thomas’ bestseller novel ‘The Hate U Give’ last year- I was left stunned.
A book that I had assumed to be classic Young Adult Fiction, had instead taken me on a journey to understanding black identity, white privilege, modern-day America and the role of police brutality and ingrained racism.
As a huge fan of the novel, I was probably one of the only people in the cinema last night who didn’t utter a grumble of disappointment, but rather a gasp of delight, as the film title appeared in the dark and I realised that I was about to see one of my favourite books of 2017 as it made its big screen debut.
‘The Hate U Give’ follows the story of Starr Carter. A middle-school teen, who lives in a predominantly African-American community in ‘Garden Heights’. Her life, however, is split into two parts, as she also attends a prestigious and predominantly white school, on the other side of town. Her identity at school is non-confrontational, her friends unaware of her background and her family – until one weekend after a party, her childhood best friend Khalil is fatally shot by a white police officer.
What follows is Starr’s decision whether to stand up and speak for Khalil, to fight for his justice – and the realisation that her identities can no longer reside simultaneously, once facing that kind of situation.
As the movie kicked off, I anticipated several walkouts (correctly so, as it turns out) – as the first twenty minutes rolled past, giving what was essentially the background of your average teen movie.
We saw Starr engaging with her friends at her current school, her on-off high school romance with her boyfriend – and snippets of her life on both sides, with family and her childhood friends.
However, when Khalil was shot – there was an audible gasp in my cinema.
That was the point that I realised that they had got this movie so perfectly right. This film not only serves the purpose of entertaining but also educating and shocking it’s audience to what is essentially a daily reality, that so many of us can easily ignore.
There were so many scenes in this film that felt unsettlingly real, particularly when it came to the close-minded and naive beliefs of Starr’s white friends.
The acting was dazzling, with stand-out performances from Starr (Amandla Stenberg) and her father (Russell Hornsby).
There was such raw emotion between the family in this film, with the protection of each other and the divisions that come from community and race – that it was entirely convincing.
Ultimately, the messages about community, strength and the impact that these divisions still bear in society made this an unmissable watch for me.
This is one of those rare films that I can almost certainly confirm lived up to my expectations from the book.
Powerful, inspiring – and one that I urge you to go and see.