Aug 10, 2019
We’re closing out the week with another review from our very own One Movie Spouse. Today, she’ll be reviewing a feature I sadly had to miss in the flurry of activity around here the past two weeks. But after she saw it, she simply had to say a few words, which we’ll get to in a minute. For a few other films in the same vein, check out “Crime + Punishment” (Episode #249), “Strong Island” (Episode #046), and “Whose Streets?”, which we’ll be re-running tomorrow as our classic review. All three documentaries cover the real-life situations that heavily influenced today’s film.
But before we delve into that, we have a promo from our good friends at the Retro Late Fee Podcast. I’m not sure why we’re running it, to be honest, but can I really blame two people in the past for the actions of their future selves? Or is that present selves? Time travel is weird. Anyway, be sure to check out their latest episode on “The Goonies”! And if you want to know what I mean by time travel, check out their guest review on One Movie Punch for “Beverly Hills Cop III” (Episode #520). It was a whole thing!
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Here we go!
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Hello! It’s me, Amy, AKA One Movie Spouse back for another weekly review. ::MWAH::
This week’s film is very different from what I generally review. While I prefer to watch light-hearted comedies, documentaries, and Bollywood films, there are some films that you simply MUST see no matter how difficult the subject matter or viewing experience might be. This is one of those films. After you have watched today’s film, reach out to me on Twitter @OneMovieSpouse to share your thoughts on this film and the critical issues within it.
Today’s movie is “The Hate U Give” (2018), the drama film
directed by George Tillman, Jr. and written for the screen by
Audrey Wells, based on the 2017 novel of the same name written by
Angie Thomas. The film follows Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), who
witnesses the police murder her friend Khalil (Algee Smith) during
a routine traffic stop. Now Starr must find the courage to speak up
about, and speak out against, this injustice.
The film opens with Starr age 9 (Kai N. Ture) and her brother Seven age 10 (Hassan Welch), along with their infant brother sitting at the table with their parents Maverick (Russell Hornsby) and Lisa (Regina Hall). Dad is having “The Talk” with them, which is the same talk that black parents have with their children across the country. “The Talk” refers to what to do when confronted by a police officer. What to say. And what not to do or say. Young children should not have to learn how not to attract the unwanted attention of police officers in order to keep themselves safe during everyday activities. I cried within these opening minutes. It deeply saddens and angers me that people of color have to go through this exercise, because they are disproportionately the victim of police brutality in their communities.
It’s a powerful way to open up a very powerful film, and sets up the viewer to understand Starr, narrating the experience, who lives in two very different worlds. First, the primarily white and affluent preparatory school outside of their neighborhood, which is her and her brother’s opportunity. Second, the primarily non-white and economically depressed neighborhood of Garden Heights, which keeps both of them grounded despite the increasing violence in their community. Stenberg gives an equally dynamic performance as Starr Carter in both communities, adapting the way that people of color often feel compelled to do.
Audrey Wells turns in a script that really shows the turmoil Starr and her mother feel about the increased violence in their community, especially after Starr finds herself the sole witness to the police murder of Khalil. Before, she could use silence as a barrier between her two worlds. After, Starr can no longer compartmentalize her life, which builds the tension needed to speak out for Khalil, taking away her safety net of silence. And this leads to a great deal of conflict with her preparatory school world, as Starr begins calling out the hypocrisy and complacency of her friends, especially Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter). Hailey becomes a poster child for using the #AllLivesMatter hashtag, or someone who does not believe in the concept of white privilege.
Starr’s boyfriend Chris (KJ Apa), by contrast, believes himself to be someone who “doesn’t see color”. He has many opinions, which on the surface seem reasonable, but doesn’t take into account the history and culture of black people, and their relationship to law enforcement. I will be honest, in years past I found myself saying some of the same things as Chris, not realizing making statements like these could be just as dangerous, and sometimes more dangerous, to communities of color as a whole. Chris and Starr eventually come to a better understanding of one another, helping Chris to recognize his own privilege, and most importantly, using that privilege to benefit the voiceless and the oppressed, without becoming a white savior figure.
This film is very powerful and equally heartbreaking. I watched most of this film with tears in my eyes, sometimes bawling, and with a fire in my gut. It’s a testament to George Tillman Jr.’s way of bringing everything together, expertly dealing with the violence ripping apart families in communities of color, and a demand for justice for the many victims of police brutality and murder. It is outrageous that this happens in our society, and if you weren’t outraged before seeing this movie, you will be. This film is a call to action away from complacency regarding gun violence and police brutality.
We should not accept either problem.
We must confront them head on.
“The Hate U Give” (2018) provides a powerful lens for examining police violence against communities of color in the United States. Audrey Wells adapts the source material well. Stenberg gives an excellent performance. And Tillman bring it all together. It is a call to action for everyone viewing the film, commanding us to follow Starr’s example, and rise up against police brutality.
Rotten Tomatoes: 97% (CERTIFIED FRESH)
Metacritic: 81 (MUST SEE)
One Movie Punch: 9.5/10
“The Hate U Give” (2018) is rated PG-13 and is currently playing on HBO.