13 October 2018 | paul-allaer
"The Hate U Give" vs. "Monsters and Men", and the winner is...
"The Hate U Give" (2018 release; 132 min.) brings the story of Starr Carter, a 16 yr. old, and her family and friends. As the movie opens, dad talks to young Starr (age 9) and her siblings about what to do and not to do when pulled over by the cops. We then flash forward to today: dad owns a convenience store in crime-infested Garden Heights, and mom is a nurse. Starr and her 2 siblings attend a private school away from Garden Heights, leading Starr to comment in the voice-over that there is versions 1 and 2 of her. Then one day Starr reconnects with childhood friend Khalil at a party. When a shooting breaks out, they make their getaway in Khalil's car. Alas, they are pulled over (for no apparent reason) and Khalil, disobeying the white cop's strict orders, is shot and killed, to Starr's shock. At this point we are 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: this is the big screen adaptation of the best-seller of the same name. I haven't read the book so I cannot comment how faithful the movie remains to the book. The movie is directed by George Tillman Jr., best known for producing the "Barbershop" movies but who a few years ago directed the outstanding film "The Inevitable Defeat of Mister & Pete", one of my favorite movies of 2013. Here he tackles a topic that seems to be all over the big screen these days: police brutality (in particular: white cop shoots unarmed black man}. Let's be clear: it is a serious problem, and it needs to stop. Regretfully, in "The Hate U Give", this message is brought with the subtlety of a bull in a china shop. There is not a single decent white person (let alone cop) in the movie, and there is no 'bad' African-American (but for the token drug king). As it happens, I recently saw another movie on (more or less) the same topic: "Monsters and Men" (starring John David Washington). The contrast between these 2 movies is noticeable. In "Monsters and Men", there is a nuance of the facts that makes these issues so much more complex and believable that is sadly lacking in "The Hate U Give". That is not to say that "The Hate U Give" is a bad movie. Amandla Stenberg brings a powerful performance as Starr, and surely we will see lots more of her in the years to come. In contrast, Sabrina Carpenter (as Starr's best friend at school) is pretty much a disaster. Bottom line: when it comes to comparing "The Hate U Give" against "Monsters and Men", it is clear to me that "Monsters and Men" is the better movie.
"The Hate U Give" recently opened, and the early evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati was attended okay but not great (about 15 people, and I couldn't help but notice that I was the only one who was not African-American). If you are interested in this important social issue, I'd suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion. (And I suggest you do likewise with "Monsters and Men".)