The Hate U Give should be a film pushing the boundaries of the 12A guidelines
The Hate U Give is particularly telling of its time, coinciding with a story and a message inherently poignant with troubled relations to the state American politics and policing . It looks to brave the storm, and put a very human perspective in place, as well as showing how deeply the issues affect the young people of America, a group very often forgotten about.
Starr (Amandla Stenberg) is a young girl living two lives. At home, she is a deep set into her culture, living through those around her with families in a difficult financial position. But with parents who want the best for her, Starr is sent to a mainly white school along with her two brothers. Acting differently and changing her appearance is just a small part of the changes Starr puts herself through each day. But things change when a gun is shot at a late night weekend party. Starr and each of the other guests are sent scrabbling for the exits. Getting away in her childhood friend Khalil’s car, they are pulled over by a police officer, who asks Khalil to get out of the car. When he reached back into the car for a brush, the officer shoots, killing Khalil on the spot. Starr, shaken by the event, soon realises how important her role is as the sole witness to the murder that had just taken place.
The strangest comparison that seems to resonate from The Hate U Give, is its uncanny similarity to 2017’s Wonder; A film with a serious message in its own right, but one that is in no way as political or empowering as The Hate U Give’s directive on institutional racism. Both films seem as if their Hollywood gloss has been glazed on too strongly. Absolutely taking away from the outright message, leaving behind a dampened view of what should be a very powerful piece of film.
Despite this, The Hate U Give still manages to express itself with enough power to paint a relatable picture of what the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement essentially runs for. And, when approaching such an important topic, there is always a risk of making it too violent and unhelpful. Making the ‘Hollywood gloss’ feel understandable, not necessarily any more reasonable. Films like The Hate U Give and similar absolutely need to express their message with the power of the truth, and scaling that down because the central character is a child simply does not work.
The Hate U Give should be a film pushing the boundaries of the 12A guidelines, if that is what director George Tillman Jr. wanted. It absolutely makes sense to use it as an educated and informative piece rousing discussion and action to be taken. But an extra push, or an extra step into making this a truly powerful piece, could have turned The Hate U Give into a genuine masterpiece.
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