Schoolgirl Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) is caught between two worlds. Deliberately shy at her predominantly white high school, she also tries to avoid the violence of her deprived black neighbourhood. However, one night her anonymity is violently ripped apart when she witnesses the death of childhood friend Kamil (Algee Smith) at the hands of the local police. Caught between the outrage of her community and the judgement of her white school friends, Starr must ultimately decide who she really is.
…no segregational stone is left unturned.
Director George Tillmann Jr’s culturally charged coming of age drama operates around an familiar acronym in black America – T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. Coined by dead rapper Tupac Shakir, it stands for “The Hate You Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody” which underlines the futility of gang violence as a means to escape poverty, by which it only ends up creating more poverty.
Framed around this mantra, ‘The Hate You Give” is a dramatic interpretation of the consequences that Tupac’s words underline. Using Starr’s fictionalised predicament to reveal the multicultural razor’s edge that still divides America, no segregational stone is left unturned. Caught between the suspicions and expectations of both communities, Starr’s dramatic arc is a story that ambitiously seeks to get under the skin of the real problem.
Sporting another impressive central performance from Amandla Stenberg (as previously seen in ‘Everything, Everything’), Starr is built into a believably, conflicted individual. Whilst trying to adhere to her former-gangster father (Rusell Hornsby) and the scholastic ambitions of her mother (Regina Hall), Starr’s future is also over shadowed by local drug lord ‘King’ (played by a criminally under-used Anthony Mackie).
Whilst lacking the urban grit and realism of Matthieu Kassovitz’s ‘La Haine’, ‘The Hate U Give’ carries with it both strong performances and an important message. All the while hinting at a grimmer, more psychologically damaging reality (think ‘Precious’), George Tillmann Jr’s ambitious movie successfully opens your eyes to white privilege in this most conflicted of countries.