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"The Hate U Give is a movie that broke me, and everyone in Australia should watch it."

Every so often, a single movie is able to achieve something phenomenal.

The Hate U Give is one such movie. Somehow it has managed to successfully translate a story from a beloved book onto the big screen, while also being a big studio movie offering that’s laugh-out-loud funny, packed with social commentary and a deeply sobering message.

And that achievement is no easy feat.

The Hate U Give, which is based on the 2017 best-selling novel of the same name by Angie Thomas, stars the brilliant Amandla Stenberg as Starr Carter. Starr is an African-American teenage girl who is constantly forced to switch between two worlds. One is the poor, mostly black neighbourhood where she lives with her parents and two brothers, while the other is the wealthy, mostly white prep school she attends due to the fact that the school near her home is where people go to “get murdered or pregnant”.

Both of these worlds are quickly shattered after she and her childhood best friend are pulled over by a police officer on the way home from a party and her friend Khalil (Algee Smith), is shot and killed at the hands of an officer, reaching for his hairbrush that the officer mistakes for a gun.

Khalil’s death becomes a national news story, sparking protests, public outrage and then allegations around his own drug use and gang affiliations. All the while, Starr’s identity as the only witness to the event must be kept a secret from everyone outside of her family.

There is such a wealth of complexity and heart in each thread of Starr’s storyline that any one of them alone could have easily made up their own movie.

As racial tensions and public outcry continue to escalate The Black Lives Matter activists in her neighbourhood want her to stand up and lead the protests, but she lives in a world where using her voice and pushing back has dangerous consequences.

Her father, Maverick Carter (Russell Hornsby) spent three years in prison to cover for a gang leader in their neighbourhood and has drilled into his children a set of rules for survival, which we see them repeating as kids in a series of flashback moments. One of rules they must live by involves placing their hands on the dashboard of the car if they are ever pulled over by police and staying perfectly still.

There is a lot of humour and love to be found in the depiction of the Carter family in this movie, but one of the strongest elements of the film is showing how their lives can change in a instant.

"The Hate U Give is a movie that broke me, and everyone in Australia should watch it." Source: Fox.
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In one scene the family is happily laughing and teasing each other their living room after Starr and her brother Seven (Lamar Johnson) return from their high school prom, and the next minute their front windows are blown out by a drive-by shooting. In another scene, Starr wakes in her bedroom to see her father sitting next to her ready with a bucket as she throws up, because he understands PTSD and has seen what she has been through many times before in the people in his life.

Starr's interactions with her white, private school classmates after the shooting are also important facets of the story. Her best friend Hailey (Sabrina Carpenter) appropriates black culture and leaves school to join in a protest about Khalil's death but also defends the white police officer and his actions to Starr, displaying arrogance and white privilege that drives a knife through their friendship.

On the flip side, Starr's boyfriend Chris (K. J. Apa) is cluelessly supportive and tries to tell her that her blackness does not matter, saying he "doesn't see colour', effectively denying a huge part of her life and identity.

She responds by saying “if you don’t see my blackness, you don’t see me."

I really hesitate to fall back on such a cliched descriptor as calling this movie "a rollercoaster of emotions" but really, that's just what it is. A tension-filled movie watching experience, brimming with heart, family and social relevance.

The Hate U Give is at times distressing viewing, and watching it truly made me question so many of the things I thought I knew about myself and my own privilege. But it is also the only movie playing in Australian cinemas at the moment that I would say everyone needs to see. Immediately.

For so many of us, it will provide insight into a world and set of circumstances we may have been ignorant of in the past, but this movie is here to shine a brighter light on a story that deserves our attention.

The Hate U Give is playing now in cinemas Australia-wide, it is rated M. 

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