While, like most book adaptations, in losing some of the fat the film loses some of what made the book great, what isn’t lost is the key message The Hate U Give pushed.
|Director(s)||George Tillman Jr.|
|Written By||Audrey Wells|
|Good If You Like||Movies Focused On Young Black Women
Films Which Talk About Police Brutality
Happy Black Families Which Don’t Live In The Suburbs
Teen Characters Emotionally Going Through A Lot
|Mr. Lewis||Tony Vaughn|
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Starr has long known life ain’t easy. When she was 10 her father decided to drill the Black Panther 10 Point Program into her head and around that age she also saw her best friend get murdered. Thus, her parents transferred her to a new school in the suburbs to get away from that violence. However, while she changed schools, her parents, Maverick and Lisa, didn’t move from the neighborhood where the shooting took place. They stayed. So, to deal with this foreign world at school, she created Starr 2.0. Someone who doesn’t attract much attention, can’t be called hood or ghetto, and perhaps only shows a little bit of her true self. Even to her boyfriend Chris.
However, even with them being together 6 months, it is clear she isn’t willing to give herself completely to him. Not just in a sexual way but letting him meet her family. Her daddy especially. But, Chris becomes one of the last things on Starr’s mind as Khalil, a childhood friend, comes back into her life and they click like they never became distant. They even kiss and while Starr stops Khalil, since she has a boyfriend, he notes he is willing to wait for her.
Sadly, no sooner does he say that, they drive less than a mile, get pulled over and within minutes, Khalil is shot to death. Leaving Starr once more experiencing PTSD. Something which isn’t helped by the fact she is given the burden of being the only one who can speak for Khalil. On top of that, some members of her community don’t want her using her voice to uplift and get Khalil justice. One man, King, who used to run the local drug trade with Starr’s dad Maverick, threatens her about speaking.
Yet, there comes a point where she can’t stay silent. She did when her first friend was murdered and while karma took care of that, justice wasn’t served for the living. But, between the police, King, friendships on the brink of ending, and more, so comes the question if Starr is willing to take on the world just by saying she bore witness.
Other Noteworthy Facts & Moments
Some Changes from Book
- DeVante is cut altogether and with that, Carlos’ role is reduced and Seven ends up being the one who gets beaten up by King. Mostly since he can’t get to Starr.
- Chris’ role is greatly reduced and thanks to Star and Khalil having quite a moment in the car, and Chris not getting to do The Fresh Prince theme, he looks like someone Starr settled for.
- Sekani plays a much bigger role as the film pushes the THUG LIFE acronym. More on that in the full spoilers though.
- King beating on Kenya and Iesha isn’t noted much, if at all, as it was in the book.
- Kenya and Starr don’t have a moment where they recognize Seven is both of their brothers and they are family. She makes it clear, early on, they ain’t kin.
- While Hailey’s comments towards Starr are noted, Starr doesn’t beat her up but just scares her. Also, she and Maya don’t have a “We minorities got to look out for one another” moment.
- We don’t see Lisa’s mom at all.
- The riots aren’t as long in the movie.
- Lewis doesn’t get on the news and snitch on King, and we don’t see Mr. Lewis and Maverick have words. Also, him selling his store to Maverick doesn’t happen since he isn’t right next door.
- Maverick and Lisa argue less and don’t end up moving out of the hood.
- Seven going off on Iesha isn’t in the movie.
Maverick and Starr’s Relationship
In the film, compared to the book, you’ll notice a lot of the relationships either got eliminated or their importance is downplayed. The only relationship that wasn’t affected was Maverick and Starr’s. Their relationship is where you’ll see most of the heart allocated towards in the film. Their bond may not have as many sweet moments, as in the book, but as King and Lisa push towards Starr’s silence, Maverick lifts her up. He pushes her to speak and remind her that she wasn’t raised to be silent. Giving us quite a few emotional moments.
Also, thanks to Maverick, we get a few comical ones as well. Such as when he meets Chris and how that is handled. Alongside Starr taking note of Maverick and Lisa’s relationship and how she smiles whenever she sees them kiss. Even calling them an OTP.
PTSD/ Survivor’s Remorse
Another thing which isn’t lost in translation is Starr having a difficult time dealing with the loss of Khalil and the expectations which comes from being his witness. For if it isn’t Lisa refusing to let Starr wallow in her pain, it is Starr not having anyone to really talk to about her feelings. Kenya is an ass and has her own issues. Hailey is always one ignorant statement from being punched, Maya is basically a third wheel in the movie, and while Starr can break down with Chris, having an actual conversation, without being at the brink? That doesn’t happen.
Then, on top of all that, Starr is torn between staying quiet, as she was before, or dealing with the responsibility, and response, which comes with speaking up. The weight and pain is all over Stenberg’s face and performance. Creating an almost Solomon Northrop vibe, from 12 Years a Slave. For as she tries to bottle up all her emotions, when she has Starr break open, so do you. For even if you never found yourself in Starr’s position, Stenberg taps into your empathy for you are the only one who truly knows what she is going through. You are her witness and, in a way, it is like she asks for your strength to speak. You are that voice in the crowd saying “Go head baby. Take your time.”
On The Fence
You May Feel A Certain Type of Way About The Cuts and Changes Made
With DeVante being cut, that leaves this entire movie experiencing a vacuum. It takes away one of the reasons Carlos and Maverick reconcile and a major part in Carlos’ relevance. Without DeVante, King’s storyline gets rewritten. In the book, we don’t see this man who supposedly is at the top of his game worried about some teenaged girl. Between his work and being an abusive douche, Starr isn’t a big deal to him. In the film, however, King makes Starr seem like she could topple his whole operation.
It doesn’t end there. DeVante also played a role in boosting Chris who never really recovers from us seeing Khalil and Starr together. For the passion in their kiss eclipses anything Chris does and says in the movie. Also, with DeVante gone, Chris trying to be down and show he isn’t scared of where Starr grew up changes. For now, the reason he goes into the hood is because Seven got beat up by King since he can’t get to Maverick or Starr. Then, on the way to the hospital, they get slowed down by the protest of which Chris doesn’t join. Only because he has to take Kenya and her little sister, Lyric, to safety. Effectively making Chris seem like the kind of boyfriend who Starr is with more so because he asked her out, and seeing him is convenient, than anything else.
Leading to the opinion of, so the film could focus more on Khalil, the threats to Starr having a voice, and have Maverick be seen one hell of a father, what was mentioned, and so much more, was cut. Understandably to hone in on the central theme but, in the process, either cutting or watering down the things which gave the book life rather than drown itself on the topic of one young man’s death.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase Or Rent On (Fandango/ Amazon)
I wouldn’t call The Hate U Give a disappointment. After all, it is rare for a movie to measure up to the book. The issue is, the movie seems to solely focus on what made the book talked about and thus cuts away what kept that 400-page monster an easy read. For with the cutting of just one character, like dominoes, so many found themselves just barely above existing. Making the film seem more about the message than anything else.
Hence the mixed label. While the message is clear, the way things are changed to make Starr’s journey the central focus, it makes this movie difficult at times to enjoy. Especially if you read the book. At least if you liked seeing characters who didn’t seem to have their lives revolve around Starr.
Ending Spoilers on 2nd Page