The Hate U Give – Our Review
First we note that the first letters of the title “The Hate U Give” spell out the word “Thug”. Given the plot, is this coincidence or intentional?
THUG Movie – Our Review
Starr Carter (Stenberg) lives two lives. In her working-class neighbourhood, she is Starr Version One, at home among family and friends, just being her teenage Black girl self. At school she is Version Two, code-switching her speech and behaviour to fit in with the rich, white world of her classmates. One night back in the neighbourhood she reconnects with her childhood sweetheart, Khalil (Algee Smith). A blissful ride turns ugly when their car is pulled over by police. Khalil makes one wrong move and is shot dead. There are only two witnesses: the police officer and Starr. Caught between worlds at a time when she is still working out who she is, Starr struggles to make the right choices. Should she testify or keep the code of silence demanded by the neighbourhood drug lord (Anthony Mackie)? Should she listen to her uncle Carlos (Common), a police officer who urges her to trust the justice system? And what can she say to her friends at school, whose opinions on police violence and crime in Black neighbourhoods suddenly opens a gulf she finds hard to bridge.
THUG is a timely commentary in the Black Lives Matter era. George Tillman, Jr.’s adaptation of the novel by Angie Thomas follows Starr, a promising student and cherished daughter whose life is upended, then galvanized, when a friend is senselessly shot dead by police.
THUG is as urgent and gripping as its source material, with performances that deepen the impact. Above all, it confirms Amandla Stenberg as an actor with the range and charisma to serve as a leading voice for young people now.
THUG was selected by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Next Wave Committee for the next generation of film lovers.
In its limited opening weekend, The Hate U Give made $512,035 from 36 theaters, an average of $14,233 per venue, finishing 13th. Playing in a total of 248 theaters the following weekend, the film made $1.8 million, finishing ninth. The film is projected to gross $7–9 million when it expands to 2,300 theaters on October 19.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 97% based on 98 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website’s critical consensus reads, “Led by a breakout turn from Amandla Stenberg, the hard-hitting The Hate U Give emphatically proves the YA genre has room for much more than magic and romance.” On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 82 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating “universal acclaim”.
Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film four out of five stars, calling it an “exceptional adaptation” and wrote, “It is impossible to over-praise Stenberg’s incandescent performance, a gathering storm that grows in ferocity and feeling with each scene. Stenberg nails every nuance of a role that keeps throwing challenges at her, none more devastating than when it becomes impossible for Starr to remain stuck in neutral.” Keith Watson of Slant Magazine gave the film two out of four stars, writing “Given its intensely relevant subject matter, the film can’t help but churn up a lot of raw emotions—and the allusions to Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and Emmett Till are reminders of the real-life sorrow that birthed this film—but Tillman’s anonymous direction is content merely to illustrate the screenplay without ever bringing it to life. Even scenes that are meant to be tinged with menace and danger—run-ins with a local gang, a shooting at a party—feel about as raw as an episode of Degrassi.”