“The Hate U Give” tackles race, police brutality stunningly

“The Hate U Give” (THUG) discusses racial issues in a surprisingly mature way while still entertaining its audience. George Tillman Jr. directed the drama based on Angie Thomas’ book of the same name.

The movie features actors such as Amandla Stenberg, Sabrina Carpenter and KJ Apa, all known for their films and shows targeted to teens. However, “THUG” feels like more than an adaptation of a popular young adult novel; it provokes deep thought and comments on modern issues.

The movie centers around Starr Carter, a black girl living in Garden Heights, a predominantly black neighborhood, and attending Williamson Prep, a predominantly white private school. After witnessing the shooting of her friend during a police traffic stop, Starr is further torn between the two worlds she lives in. “THUG” follows Starr as she wrestles with her loyalty to her community and her place in her school.

Stenberg’s performance as the protagonist is raw and incredibly emotional. When her character, Starr, sees her friend die, the reaction Stenberg conveys makes the audience feel her pain. Stenberg continues to stun the audience throughout the movie, such as in the riot scene and the fire scene.

Some of Stenberg’s previous movies include “Everything, Everything” and “The Hunger Games.”

All of the cast truly embrace their roles and immerse the viewer in the world they live in. Carpenter, for example, perfectly portrays privilege and unintentional racism in a way that makes the audience aware of their own biases. Common’s performance offers a unique perspective by embodying the perpetrator and the victim due to his identity as a black policeman. By showing the viewer a new perspective, “THUG” effectively demonstrates racial disparities and the hardships African-Americans face.

Besides being aesthetically pleasing, the cinematography in the movie enhances its message. Shots in Williamson Prep are blue toned and shots in Garden Heights are warm toned. The symbolism of the colors helps the audience understand how Starr feels in each world. The movie also utilizes flashbacks where the shots are slowed down, desaturated or muted. By editing the appearance of the clips, the viewer is drawn in even more to these important moments, and the editing makes these crucial moments all the more emotional and impactful.

Even though the movie might deal with a heavy subject, it still finds time to entertain. There are many happy moments in the movie that Starr shares with her friends and family. The movie employs comedy from time to time which helps to break up the serious matter of the movie without taking away from the seriousness of several other scenes.

“THUG” is a phenomenal movie that achieves the purpose of Thomas’ book: to draw attention to the hardships African-Americans face in order for everyone to understand their struggle.


Photos courtesy of Creative Commons.