‘The Hate U Give’: A Racial Drama So Honest Every American Should See It

It’s dispiriting, if more true than not, to keep hearing that the two sides of America have no more overlap, that we’re at fundamental odds, plugged into different news streams, different cultural-ideological values, different realities. And a pivotal way this degrades our discourse is that neither side feels like it has the luxury to look for shades of gray.

Yet one of the shockingly powerful things about “The Hate U Give,” a drama of racial discord that’s been playing to enthralled audiences and finally went wide this weekend, is that it unfolds in a moral zone that keeps forcing you to question what you think. The film is based on a young-adult novel by Angie Thomas, and excuse my prejudice if I confess that I don’t tend to go to YA movies to have my mind opened up about America’s racial complexities. Yet “The Hate U Give,” as directed by George Tillman Jr., from a script by Audrey Wells (who died, after a battle with cancer, the day before the film was released), is the rare racial drama that will detonate the complacency of even those who are drawn to see it. It’s that good, that searching, that fierce in its humanity.

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