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#TIFF18 Review: The Hate U Give

September 15, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★ (out of 4)

Based on the bestselling young adult of the same name by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give is a gripping and well made big screen adaptation that provides proof of the ability that even the most commercially viable movies can have to tell powerful and relevant stories.

The film follows Starr (Amandla Stenberg), a black girl who essentially has two versions of herself. When she is just hanging out with her family in the working class neighbourhood where they live she is free to be herself, but at the rich and predominantly white prep school that she goes to nearby, she is conscious of her speech patterns, so as not to appear too “ghetto” and paint even more of a target on her back.

When Starr ends up witnessing her unarmed friend Khalil (Algee Smith) get shot and killed by a police officer (Drew Starkey) during a traffic stop following a neighbourhood party, she ends up embroiled in a fight for justice that threatens to force both of her worlds to collide, and even brings up divisions in her own community. The situation is complicated by the fact that her uncle (Common) is also a cop, and the area is essentially run by a violent gang known as the King Lords, whose leader (Anthony Mackie) becomes worried that Starr will cross them.

Brought to the screen by director George Tillman Jr., who does a good job of navigating the many plot threads, The Hate U Give is a multilayered drama that features a rich tapestry of characters, who all bring different perspectives to the complex story. Amandla Stenberg delivers a star turn in the lead, and she is supported by a strong ensemble cast. Algee Smith is able to leave an impact on the entire film in his few crucial scenes, and also watch for Russell Hornsby, who delivers an excellent and multifaceted performance as Starr’s father. This is a gripping and well made YA adaptation.

Algee Smith and Amandla Stenberg in The Hate U Give

Public Screenings:

Friday, September 7th – 9:30 PM at Roy Thomson Hall

Saturday, September 8th – 11:00 AM at Princess of Wales Theatre

Thursday, September 13th – 2:30 PM at Princess of Wales Theatre

Sunday, September 16th – 11:00 AM at Ryerson Theatre

The 2018 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 6th to 16th.

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