The Hate U Give, B+

Rated R, 135 minutes The riveting, powerful new drama “The Hate U Give,” based on Angie Thomas’ 2017 best-selling novel of the same name, tells a tragic and all-too familiar story: a young, unarmed African-American male is killed by a white police officer in a large, American city. The superbly-acted, racially-charged tale is a provocative one for sure yet provides some insight into such protests as the current one by NFL players. “Hate” falters some in its last act, but its pertinent overtones and a ferocious lead performance will surely stay with you long after you leave the theater. Starr Carter (“Everything, Everything’s”Amanda Stenberg) is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black, neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white, prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil (“Detroit’s” Algee Smith) at the hands of a white police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what's right. “The Hate U Give” is directed by “Soul Food’s” George Tillman Jr. with a script co-written by Audrey Wells and Tina Mabry that is fictional but reflects so many real stories over recent years. Stenberg, in an astonishing breakout turn that brims with anger and heartbreak, grounds the film so poignantly as the young girl thrust into a spotlight as an activist after her lifelong friend is gunned down in front of her eyes. The first 2 acts are “Hate’s” strongest as Starr forges a way to carry on her friend’s legacy while also forging change in a society that often isn’t ready to, at the uneasy behest of her concerned parents (Russell Hornsby and Regina Hall) but at the encouragement of an activist attorney, played by the always terrific Issa Rae of TV’s “Insecure.” On the downside, “Hate” has a few too many characters that aren’t fully explored, including Anthony Mackie’s local drug dealer and a racist high school friend of Starr’s (singer Sabrina Carpenter), and director Tillman is a little unsure of what to do with all of them in a somewhat disappointing climax that feels awkwardly staged. Still, the thought-provoking, relevant “The Hate U Give” will stay with you after you leave the theater, and there’s enough goodness in it to stir some conversation around a topic that many don’t like to discuss: police brutality among minorities that remains a problem in America. Sent from my iPad