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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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“The Hate U Give” is a lousy film with an important message

The Hate U Give
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The Hate U Give

“The Hate U Give,” directed by George Tillman Jr., is an adaptation of the novel of the same name written by Angie Thomas. The film is rooted deep in cultural relevance, and the message it portrays is an important one. However, the film’s message is overshadowed by the inability to connect its audience with its characters and the lack of maturity in its approach to its source material.
The film revolves around the aftermath of a black teenager killed by a white police officer. With such an important topic, the tone of the film should match the importance of the issue. However, Tillman failed to mirror the complexity of the issue onto the screen. Most of this film plays out more like a teenage melodrama than a societal critique. It focuses more on the drama between the characters rather than the issue itself. And when the film address the social issues at hand, the issues are vastly oversimplified.
The film opens with the over-explanatory narration that is included in nearly every film intended for high schoolers. Even this early on in the film, the complex and important message had already started to become lost in its attempt to cater toward a younger audience. There is nothing wrong with attempting to convey the complex issue of racism to a younger audience, but the core message is lost in the process.
In this film, Tillman’s main focus is on the interactions between the characters, but he fails to provide any sort of dimension to the characters. In fact, in many scenes, the motivations and the actions of the characters feel more in line with the melodrama genre norms than the overall direction of the film. The characters depicted are void of the humanity that the film is rooted in. The film wants to break down racial stereotypes but plays into them in an attempt to convey its message.
The main character of the film, Starr Carter, is played by rising actress Amandla Stenberg. Stenberg’s performance in the film is actually quite good considering her lack of character developmentStarr is a high school girl from a low-income, predominantly African-American community but she attends high school at a predominately white preparatory school. Stenberg plays a believable code-switching teenageer, and the scenes with her intercations with her classmates are the most realistic scenes of the film.
Other than Stenberg’s, the performance of the cast is pretty lackluster. This poor performance is in no way due to the lack of quality in the supporting cast. Regina Hall, who plays Starr’s mother in the film, is heavily underutilized. Her performance is forgettable as none of her dialogue adds anything to the film.
But by far the most surprising of the underwhelming supporting cast is Anthony Mackie. His performance is incredibly subpar compared to the ability shown in his work in other films. Mackie plays a brooding gang leader and is attempting to portray himself as an imposing figure. His performance falls miles short of believable, and most of the scenes his character is involved in are laughable.
Ultimately, the failure of this work rests of the shoulders of Tillman, who fails to bring the characters of the film any sort of life past the two-dimensional stereotypes presented. In the hands of a more experienced director, this film could have presented its message to a younger audience without losing the complexities that live at its core.
This message is one that needs to be portrayed on the theater screen and one that needs to reach young people in its audience. However, “The Hate U Give” loses its message in the attempt to speak to that younger audience.

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