Based on a book by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give follows high schooler Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg) as a violent act forces her to reexamine her entire worldview. It’s apparent that The Hate U Give, though it runs an overlong 133 minutes (!), generally comes off as an engaging and emotionally-charged drama that’s rife with stirring performances, and there’s little doubt, as well, that filmmaker George Tillman Jr does an effective job of immediately drawing the viewer into the deliberately-paced proceedings – as the picture kicks off with a striking opening sequence that both establishes a very specific tone and paves the way for an increasingly compelling midsection. And although Audrey Wells’ script has been peppered with less-than-subtle instances of speechifying (ie it’s impossible to walk away from the movie without a very clear understanding of the point it was trying to make), The Hate U Give certainly benefits quite substantially from its completely-relevant-to-2018 narrative that never becomes quite as one-sided as one might’ve feared. (The movie boasts, for example, a strong sequence in which Common’s police officer explains the situation from the perspective of a garden-variety cop.) The length does become an issue as The Hate U Give progresses into its final third, and yet such concerns become moot once the unexpectedly powerful climax rolls around – which undoubtedly confirms the movie’s place as an engrossing, socially-conscious bit of contemporary filmmaking.
***1/2 out of ****