Less than two years after Angie Thomas’ award-winning bestselling YA novel The Hate U Give took the book world by storm, it’s now made the leap to the big screen with a successful adaptation that’s both relevant and spirited.
Directed by George Tillman Jr., The Hate U Give made its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival this year as a timely coming-of-age commentary in the Black Lives Matter era. The film adaptation is just as urgent and powerful as the novel featuring strong performances from an A-list cast.
The film version follows Starr (Amandla Stenberg), a promising student and loved daughter from the poor black neighbourhood of Garden Heights, who attends a private school in the wealthy white neighbourhood of Williamson. Her life is upended one night when her unarmed friend is senselessly shot dead by a police officer. The relevance of this story hardly needs to be explained, but it’s the memorable characters that make it worth watching. Tillman’s style raises the stakes of this moral drama with each minute of the film while remaining to tell the story with insight, detail, and heart.
While books lovers may get nervous when they hear their favourite novel is being adapted for the big screen, we think the movie version of The Hate U Give nails it. Here’s everything you need to know about the new movie based on one of the buzziest YA novels of the last few years.
If you’ve already read the book, you probably want to know whether or not the adaptation is going to be anything like the source material. In this case, the film follows the book in almost identical unison, however, from a movie standpoint, it might actually be too similar to the book. The Hate U Give relies heavily on Starr’s voiceover narration to tell rather than show viewers certain details, making the film feel very much like an audio book at times. But those die-hard fans of the novel will probably appreciate this steadfast adaptation trait.
The Hate U Give has an unsettlingly tragic premise, but unlike other dramas, the film still makes room for moments of humour, happiness, and heart. From Starr swooning over cute boys to the Carter brothers cracking jokes, the characters serve as reminders that love and joy can still remain in families and communities even among the harsh realities of violence, poverty, and crime.
Even if you’ve already read the book and know the story, there are other reasons to watch the movie—namely, the cast. Stenberg is captivating from the first moment she’s on screen. Although Starr has to switch between the one version of herself who goes to Williamson and the other version that grew up in Garden Heights, Stenberg masters the switch easily and with expressive eyes that allow viewers to get to know the true Starr through it all.
Starr’s family is tight-knit so that means The Hate U Give is filled with memorable family moments that tug at the heartstrings. Starr’s mom and dad are so sweet together she often refers to them as her OTP. But Tillman doesn’t establish these characters as some sort of idealized fantasy, he shows the hard work they’ve put into making the family as strong as they are. Even if they’re scared or uncertain, each member of the Carters is there for one another no matter what. It’s a special bond that adds to making the film so compulsively watchable.
From police brutality to out of hand protests and even the microaggressions Starr faces from her classmates at school, The Hate U Give has a lot jam packed into its two and a half hours. Yet the film never feels preachy or academic because it stays so focused on Starr’s own navigation through these subjects. Her stance on these matters is shown to be something personal rather than political, which has viewers better connect with the story on an emotional level.
Catch The Hate U Give in theatres October 5.