THE HATE YOU GIVE – Poignant but a Little Too Hallmarkish

THE HATE YOU GIVE is a poignant movie for the current generation. It is telling the divide in communities and mistreatment of the forever pummelled society of African Americans. A story told many many times in cinemas. IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK, releasing in two weeks, tells a similar story, and there are hundreds before and hundreds will follow. THE HATE YOU GIVE is telling it for the current teen youth, the RIVERDALERS if you will. These stories will keep on being told until society gets the message and starts fixing society.

THE HATE YOU GIVE releases today, Thur 31st Jan, in Australia from 20th Century Fox. It is rated M and runs for 133mins.

The Hate You Give Amandla Stenberg and K.J. Apa image
Amandla Stenberg and K.J. Apa

BY JASON KING

THE HATE YOU GIVE SYNOPSIS:

Starr Carter is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.

THE HATE U GIVE is based on the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller by Angie Thomas.

The Hate You Give Amandla Stenberg and Algee Smith image
Amandla Stenberg and Algee Smith

A WONDERFUL MESSAGE IF NOT A LITTLE TOO CLICHÉD:

THE HATE YOU GIVE is a timely relevant story on America’s race relations and is blended with a coming of age story to give us a snapshot of what it’s like to be a “black teen” in America. It is told only through Starr’s eyes and gets the message across beautifully. My only real issue with the film is the movie itself borders on a metaphor for one of it’s core messages. It is told from a mostly privileged point of view and embraces a somewhat RIVERDALE/ SEVENTH HEAVEN/ HALLMARK style in its storytelling.

Starr lives in a black neighbourhood but is attending a hoity toity private school, her family lives in a nice house and her uncle lives in a mansion – just how does he and his wife afford that with him being a police officer? Her boyfriend is played by K.J. Apa of RIVERDALE fame, why no shirtless scene KJ!?! It’s all very neat and tidy, everything is shiny and everything works out, except for Khalil that is.

But the somewhat successful Hallmark point is STARR doesn’t belong in either world, or more so society is the issue that has led us to believe there actually is two worlds. Starr is speaking from both worlds, a world we all should belong in. The core message of the film is THE HATE YOU GIVE, or more so, THE HATE WE GIVE is passed generation to generation. Starr isn’t part of us or them, she is trying to bring worlds together. It takes her the entire movie to realise this however, and this is one of the movie’s strengths.

IT’S NOT US VS THEM – IT’S JUST US:

One of the pivotal characters is the white school girl from extremely wealthy parents who wants to support “black lives matter” for the purpose of having a day off school and doing her thing. But when it comes down to the itty gritty, she is quite racist. This character was marvellous as it showed different viewpoints. She supports the police officer who shot dead Khalil, not knowing that Starr was the witness to the shooting. But what led this cop to shoot? Is he a bad person? I don’t think so. He was alone, he saw something drawn and he protected himself. Starr’s uncle explains it later in the movie, the motivation of the police.

This is an endless cultural issue with blacks and whites in America. Bad people on both sides ruin it for everyone with crime and corruption. The cop was completely in the wrong but he wasn’t a corrupt bad guy, he was a representation of police culture in America. There is so much hate between cops and African Americans that trust will be a struggle for multiple generations, if it is ever to be overcome.

You can see this overcoming of the issue evolve in Starr’s character, she tears herself up on the inside with hate before she comes to the revelation this will solve nothing.

The Hate You Give Amandla Stenberg image
Amandla Stenberg

SOME FINE CASTING:

The casting of THE HATE YOU GIVE movie impressed. Amandla Stenberg is a screen siren, the camera worships her presence, and the audience will love her. I wished her character came to realise its confidence sooner but Starr has to overcome a lot to truly shine. Russell Hornsby was as good as her father, a man who lives by a prime directive for survival in the current climate. His presence is both powerful and assuring, you feel safe around him, he has learned and he is the wise man.

K.J. Apa just feels out of place in the movie. I love him, and while he feels out of place, I think that is the point. K.J. represents the best of “white” society, he is as clichéd as it gets and, on a side note, looks so weird without his red hair. He loves Starr regardless of any “supposed” limitations created by skin colour. He is the boyfriend Starr deserves, people look at them oddly, is it more jealousy than skin colour issues? Perhaps a bit of both. But he also represents the naivety of society, he is just so comfortable in his life, he cannot truly grasp the immensity of Starr’s situation. I would have been happier if Starr’s father paid him more benefit-of-the-doubt respect.

Special mentions to Sabrina Carpenter as “racist” Hailey, she was great in her role, and I am sure she is not as much of a bitch as she was in THE HATE YOU GIVE. TJ Wright as Starr’s little brother Sekani, his last scene is a masterpiece. Common as Starr’s uncle, the policeman stuck in two worlds, also like Starr, and Regina Hall as Starr’s mum, a supportive role, but a powerful one nonetheless.

The Hate You Give Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall, Amandla Stenberg and Common image
Russell Hornsby, Regina Hall, Amandla Stenberg and Common

IN CONCLUSION:

THE HATE YOU GIVE is a little too shiny and Hallmarkish but it still gives a powerful look into the state of race relations in the U.S.A.. A film that should be compulsory viewing for all school students and police officers in the States. All lives matter people, get your head out of your ass and make the world a better place!

YOUR CRITIC:

Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the Australian movie industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.