No family should have to have a conversation about how to act when the police inevitably stop you. The existence of that moment for black families opens and drives the powerful The Hate U Give. Teenager Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg, whom you should not have missed in Everything, Everything) has two versions of herself. One attends the elite prep school to which her loving parents, Maverick and Lisa (Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall), send her and her siblings. The other Starr must survive in Garden Heights, the crime-ridden neighborhood where her father serves as owner of a crucial convenience store (the closest Walmart is 32 minutes away).
When Starr’s estranged childhood friend, Khalil (Algee Smith, Detroit), is shot by a cop, leaving her as the sole witness, the two Starrs collide. Her white schoolmates, led by BFF Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter), see Khalil’s death as a movement to join or coopt. She withdraws from her white boyfriend, Chris (KJ Apa). Kenya, Starr’s only friend in her neighborhood, is the half-sister of her half-brother, Seven (Lamar Johnson). More importantly, Kenya’s dad, King (Anthony Mackie), heads the local drug-dealing gang that fear implication in Starr’s upcoming grand jury testimony.
Nothing is simple for Starr Carter in The Hate U Give, and director George Tillman Jr. (Soul Food, Notorious), working from a script by the late Audrey Wells, knows the tension is uncomfortable but necessary. An important film given America’s current fractured state, The Hate U Give will leave its audience with much to consider about hate and who is really responsible for it.