When you hear a story about a hot topic people seem to take sides rather quickly about who is right and who is wrong. Take any hot button subject and you will find this to be true, that more and more people in the middle are becoming less and less visible. Watching a movie like The Hate U Give makes you think of things like this, about the world and where we are as a society, but it really just makes you think. Every story has two sides and too often it seems we just want to hear the one that we feel comfortable with, well this story should make you feel uncomfortable no matter what side you fall on.
Starr (Amandla Stenberg) is a girl with a foot in two worlds. One world is where she is growing up in, a place most would consider the ghetto, while the other world is an elite school that is light years away from where she calls home. In these two worlds she is different versions of herself, never letting the high society world see her as she is in her real world. But it all starts to crumble when while reconnecting with an old friend in Kahalil (Algee Smith), they are pulled over and Kahalil is shot and killed while reaching for a hair brush. With Starr being the only witness, it sets off a colliding of her worlds as her desire to keep them separate becomes harder to do as the reality sets in that she can’t move forward because of the color of her skin. Starr must make a decision to try and keep her life the same or to be the voice for someone who can no longer speak, either way will be changing her life forever.
Walking out of a film like this I feel it would be hard not to be affected by the story you just saw. I sat there transfixed but what I was seeing on screen and feeling everything as I watched it unfold. Based on the book by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give tells a story unfamiliar to some but common to others. It gives a face to the faceless and life to people’s stories that otherwise would not be heard. Sure this story might not be based on a true event, but change the names and I am sure you can find a story out there that fits the same mold. One of the things that makes this one hit how it does is the performance by Stenberg, who gives one of those, ‘oh she is going to be a star’ kind of performances. She wows as Starr which is crucial as it is all about her and her choices.
The message is strong, but it’s not without its faults, one being a speech involving why one person might get killed during a traffic stop versus another that just feels a little too PSA. That is not intended to take away from the power this movie holds, and while you might think has one message, it delivers a totally different one by the end. This is a story about finding your voice, and when it comes to the voice from this movie we should all listen to what it has to say and maybe do some self reflecting of our own.