A powerful portrait of where we are today

By Harper DeAndrade

A movie version of The Hate You Give, a novel by Angie Thomas about a young girl named Starr who lives in Garden Heights, a fictional town, with citizens who are predominantly people of color, recently made it to the big screen in movie theaters worldwide. The film received a ninety seven on Rotten Tomatoes, but I think this film deserved an even higher score because the casting was impeccable, and the scenes were framed with such a realistic lense that it truly exposed the audience to the issue of police brutality in America.

When Starr was younger she was taught how to react when you encounter police officers, her parents considered it “the talk”, she also had two close friends, Natasha was shot during a drive by when they played outside in the sprinklers. Now Starr has to cope with the death of her other close friend Khalil. As Starr an Khalil are driving home from a party over spring break, they are pulled over by One-Fifteen, a white police officer. What many might consider a routine stop, over a broken tail light, soon became a murder scene, as One-Fifteen shoots Khalil in the back three times. He claims there was a gun, but there wasn’t; it was a hairbrush. Now Starr struggles with the identity of being a unnamed witness, people in Garden Heights where she lives start to find out, but at the private school she attends in the white suburbs surrounding Garden Heights she is afraid of being known the kid who saw her friend get shot, again. With pressure from Kenya, one of Starr friends from Garden Heights, she realizes it is necessary to speak out, because what happened to Khalil wasn’t right. Starr needs to prove that to the white peers she has at her private school, as she realizes even the people who are her closest friends see Khalil as a thug, and drug dealer, not an innocent teenager who was murdered by One-Fifteen.

With any movie based on a book the director and script writers choose to make changes that the book readers might disagree with. The first example in the movie might not seem important to you, but it would have been so easy to get this detail correct: the color of Starr’s prom dress. In the book, Starr gets a light blue dress at the last minute to wear to prom, but in the movie Starr’s mom gets her a black dress and they talk about the dress over lunch. A more crucial change that the director made was leaving out DeVante, a character that Starr’s uncle Carlos and her father, Maverick, take under their wings, to get him out of dealing drugs under King. Helping DeVante was out of guilt for not helping Khalil until it was too late, he was a crucial character at helping them cope with feeling like they failed Khalil. DeVante had also helped Maverick accept that you can still do right by your friends even if you change where you live, but through leaving out DeVante they also left out the fact that Starr’s family does leave Garden Heights, something they don’t do in the movie.

Overall the producers of The Hate You Give did a good job at adapting the book into a movie, but there are some things that they didn’t need to change in order to save screen time. Book readers expect some changes to be made, but sometimes a change is made just out of the lack of consideration about what is written in the novel. The script writers and costume designers should have read more into the tiny details of the book, that they skimmed over because of its lack of impact to the plot. The script writers also should have tried to keep the timeline in a more concise order in imitation to the book, putting major scenes in the book closer to the beginning of the book in order to speed up the plot was not necessary in all cases.  The Hate You Give is written in order to expose readers from all walks of life to the true impacts of police brutality towards people of color. The movie brings this story to an even larger audience, but the book should be your first stop. The book gives you a more first hand view of Starr’s experiences, three hours can’t even begin to cover the trauma and growth Starr goes through from Khalil’s death and trial, through the aftermath of an nonexistent conviction.

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