It’s a sad sign of the times that police shooting an unarmed black man seem to be one of the unofficial themes of TIFF’s 2018 program much like tennis was last year.
Starr Carter (a sensational Amandla Stenberg) lives in a poor black neighbourhood but goes to school in an affluent white part of town. Starr Version Two- the censored version of herself that her friends see- can’t quote hip hop lyrics like her white friends do all the time because “when they do it, they sound cool. When I do it, I sound ghetto”. Moments after reconnecting with a black childhood friend at a party in her neighbourhood, the two are pulled over by a white police officer which quickly and tragically ends with her friend getting shot and killed.
Not only does Starr now have a lot of grief and trauma to work through. Her once compartmentalized life has suddenly gotten a lot more complicated as she- the only witness to the shotting- starts getting pulled in every direction. Everyone, from the kids at school to the local gang leader (Anthony Mackie) to Starr’s cop uncle (Common), has an opinion that they’re not shy to share and some are all too happy to resort to threats and even violence.
Whereas Reinaldo Marcus Green’s excellent Monsters and Men was a thoughtful and nuanced indie, The Hate U Give works a lot harder at being accessible to a more mainstream audience. Our introduction to Starr’s life and the world around here is often funny and Starr and her family are immediately easy to like and root for. The soundtrack doesn’t hurt one bit either. Things are obviously a lot less fun once shots are fired and Starr’s friend is killed but The Hate U Give is still the kind of movie that seeks to entertain while it makes us think and feel.
The Hate U Give hooked me much quicker than Monsters and Men did. Monsters and Men needs time to sink in. It doesn’t aim for big dramatic scenes and speeches like The Hate U Give does. The Hate U Give pays a bit of a price for its more mainstream approach. Because it always feels like a movie albeit an extremely effective one. Some parts seem a little too contrived while others are a little over-simplified.
There’s a place for both movies. Monsters and Men was a great conversation starter is a mostly satisfying and cathartic emotional experience. It’s just that I fell in love with this movie over the first half or so and somewhere along the way I lost some enthusiasm for it.
I’m looking forward to this, but that’s not the first time I’ve heard someone mention that being so mainstream kind of hurts its arguments a bit. Great review!
Thanks. It really is a good movie. I just thought it should have been even better,
This sounds like a very good film and I wish films like this would come to my neck of t(e woods but I live in a city where culture means Rambo 7
Haha actually I think you might be in luck with this one. It’s going to be a pretty big movie with a pretty wide release.
It’s good this story is getting out there. Too many won’t read the book. (I haven’t…)
Neither have I actually.
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Interesting comparison with Monsters and Men, I will add that to my watch list as I missed that! Great film overall, I thought it might be lost in cheesy teen drama but not at all.
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