The Hate U Give is a flick that rides the line between being good and great. There is no doubt that it is tone perfect and evergreen in theme, but at the same time, for a good chunk of the film it doesn’t quite leap at you.
It is strong and powerful, but it’s a bit on the nose. The Hate U Give echos reality, and whether it’s a work of fiction or not, it feels like a story that definitely exists for real in this world.
Which is where the film shines. There are many a scene that sucker punches you, and makes you realise that this is the way people are, and there’s good and bad. There’s one particular scene that wonderfully illustrates how those who say they care on the outside of the truth of it all don’t really get it at all. The sympathisers that still don’t quite realise that there’s more to the problems with race and society than just a hashtag.
The Hate U Give captures you from the beginning, showing how from a young age, kids in the world of the movie - and that world in real life - have to know that this is how things are, and those things are shitty. It’s fucked up that they have to truly follow instructions to the letter to stay alive in this world.
The themes are strong. They resonate, they open eyes, they don’t back away from the fact that this is how it is. And we need change.
As an overall film, though, it doesn’t light a fire as well as it could. Maybe it’s the pacing, maybe it’s the acting, there’s just some missing link in The Hate U Give, which is disappointing. It pleasantly surprises coming off the trailer, but it does still feel like a young adult version of a really great film, and instead it’s just a really good film.