When I first heard that Angie Thomas’ heartbreaking book, The Hate U Give was being turned into a movie with an all star cast I was far from surprised. A New York Times best seller with a timely book on such current events was not only a page turner, but a movie in the making. I walked in the early screening of the movie at National Geographic in Washington D.C. knowing exactly what to expect or so I thought. Like many people around the world I was a huge fan of the book, but what I did not expect was to fall in love with the on screen portrayal of the characters and the movie adaption so quickly.
Amandla Stenberg who scored the starring role as sixteen year old Star gave a breakout performance as her first lead role in a huge movie. She captivated the screen with her infectious smile and commanded your attention every time she spoke. Stenberg’s character lives in a predominantly black neighborhood in Garden Heights, the same neighborhood where both of her parents were raised (Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby). Starr is constantly caught between two worlds at her fancy majority white private school and her neighborhood where she lives with her friends and family. She’s doing a great job of balancing the two until her worlds collide when her childhood best friend, Kahlil (Algee Smith) is shot and killed by a police officer right in front of her.
Starr is instantly scarred and goes into a shell until her amazing father snaps her out of it. She leads a bit of a revolution in Garden Heights with the help of April Ofrah (Issa Rae) when she decides to speak up on her friends shooting to change not only her neighborhood, but the world.
It was impossible not to go through every emotion while watching the film. I found myself laughing out loud, shedding tears and relating so much to what each character was feeling. I left the movie heavy heart-ed because if you know the story line of the movie at all, you know it’s not just “another movie,” it’s real life. It was hard not to feel helpless while watching and also tired. Tired of hashtags, tired of protesting and tired of nothing changing. Still, thankful that Angie Thomas used her voice and platform to tell a story to a world who often chooses to ignore instead of doing what they know is right. Go see The Hate U Give in theaters everywhere October 19th.