If there is one film you need to watch this year, it’s this one.
Sorrow. Grief. Rage. There are no words in existence that could explain the impact that this film had on me. More than a solid storyline, poignant cinematography, and well-thought-out characters, The Hate U Give (THUG) is a masterpiece that causes its viewers to deeply empathise, to react, and to reflect on our own privilege in today’s society. With incredible power, THUG refuses to give in to injustice from the law, nor will it excuse ignorance from the majorities. It reminds us that racism still exists today, is still a part of the mainstream, and is being ignored now more than ever.
The film follows main character Starr after she witnesses the murder of close friend Khalil; a case of police brutality. As the only witness, she must speak before a grand jury to convince them that the policeman should even face trial. In doing this, she risks how she is perceived and treated in her dominantly white school and she also risks her own life as she is threatened by gang member ‘King’ for being a ‘snitch’. THUG refuses to self-censor right from the very beginning, as the film opens with a younger Starr and her siblings being very seriously coached by her father on what to do when the inevitability of being stopped by a white policeman happens. Audiences instantly feel the danger.
The film proceeds to then courageously take viewers through the enraging and incredibly painful experiences of Starr through her school and home life. We see that racism is everywhere, both in the casual racism of her friends in school through their language and through their stereotyping of her, and also the racism towards Khalil’s murder case, as media sides with the “poor white policeman who thought he was defending himself.” Alongside racism, the film intensely delves into the issues of poverty in ghettos, the drug industry, dysfunctional family, and so much more.
Said by male star Russel Hornsby himself, this film “gives audiences an opportunity to understand.” THUG continuously drives home this moral. “THUG LIFE”: “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody”. It shows the effects of the hate given by racists, by the white policemen getting away with murder, by the deaths of countless black people for no reason, by fellow black people, and by gang members. The Hate U Give asks us: when will this stop? Why is this still happening in our so-called ‘progressive’ society? For these reasons, this film is an incredibly tough and immensely vital watch. A story so relevant and so powerful that, after watching, must be encouraged to be seen by as many people as possible.