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The Hate U Give (2018)

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Adam Lenhardt, Jun 17, 2019.

  1. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    Title: The Hate U Give

    Tagline: Two worlds. One voice. No going back.

    Genre: Crime, Drama

    Director: George Tillman Jr.

    Cast: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, K.J. Apa, Common, Anthony Mackie, Algee Smith, Lamar Johnson, Issa Rae, Sabrina Carpenter, TJ Wright, Dominique Fishback, Megan Lawless, Tony Vaughn, Karan Kendrick, Susan Santiago, Rayven Symone Ferrell, Marcia Wright, Drew Starkey, Dustin Lewis, Rhonda Johnson Dents, Brian Lafontaine, Al Mitchell, Iyana Halley, Tanya Christiansen, Andrene Ward-Hammond, Heaven Hightower, Myles Evans, Kai N. Ture, Hassan Welch, Maxwell Cardona, Abby Glover

    Release Date:

    Runtime: 133

    Plot: Raised in a poverty-stricken slum, a 16-year-old girl named Starr now attends a suburban prep school. After she witnesses a police officer shoot her unarmed best friend, she's torn between her two very different worlds as she tries to speak her truth.

     
  2. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Director

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    I watched this tonight as part of my endeavor to squeeze as much out of my HBO Now subscription as I can before it expires on the 21st.

    It's a difficult movie to discuss without running afoul of the forum's rules on political discussion. Suffice to say, if I had watched it last year, it would have been on my top ten for 2018.

    The movie revolves around Starr Carter, a 16-year-old black girl growing up in an unidentified American city. She lives in the fictional intercity neighborhood of Garden Heights, but attends a predominantly white prep school in the fictional suburb of Williamson. She lives one life at home and another completely different, completely separate life at school. She takes care that her two worlds never cross.

    One weekend, she is attending a party with some kids she grew up with. An argument breaks out, and somebody fires off a gun. The party breaks up and Starr's childhood friend Khalil gives her a ride home. Khalil is pulled over by a young white officer for failing to use his turn signal when making a lane change. The traffic stop escalates quickly; Khalil is incensed by the way the officer is treating him. The officer is nervous and defensive. While the officer is running his license and registration, Khalil reaches into the car for his hairbrush. The officer misinterprets the hairbrush as a gun and shoots Khalil dead, right in front of Starr.

    In the aftermath, Starr is summoned to testify as the only witness what went down. As the notoriety around Khalil's death becomes a matter of national attention, Starr's own notoriety grows. The police, the media, and social justice groups advocating for Khalil's family all take steps to keep Starr's identity protected. But word slowly seeps out in both Garden Heights and Williamson.

    Khalil had been selling drugs as a low-level street pusher in order to pay his grandmother's medical bills. He was not "on the clock" at the time of the officer-involved shooting, and there were no drugs present on his person or in his vehicle. But the local drug kingpin worries that Starr's testimony will implicate him. So she feels pressure to remain silent from all sides.

    One of the things that the movie does very well is not create any easy villains. All of the characters in this movie act according to their experiences and perspectives. If the movie had made the police officer an over-the-top bigot, it would have been game over before the movie even really got started. Instead, he is an inexperienced and frightened young man operating according to his training, evaluating threats according to his training.

    The movie's an examination of (and indictment of) the entire system that allows a situation like this to happen: The training that allows a routine traffic stop to become a summary execution, the system that makes drug dealing such a pervasive occupation in low-income neighborhoods, the system that keeps demographics of people so segregated that they can't understand each other's experiences, so they often aren't even willing to try. The mechanisms that reinforce poverty generation after generation, the thought processes that turn poor people against one another, that (in extremis) result in riots and looting and burned out intercity businesses and destroyed property. All of the things that put children in the crosshairs.

    Starr is a useful protagonist in this way, because she's got a foot in both worlds, understands both worlds. There is violence in this movie, and danger. But mostly it's concerned with how this teenage girl will react to the world she has inherited, how it has shaped her, the choices she will make in response, and the ramifications those choices will have in all areas of her life, which can no longer be so neatly closed off from one another.
     

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