FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2018 -- When January 16, 2019 rolls around, you can be assured there won't be any protests about "Hollywood So White" and the lack of African American representation at the Oscar Awards. There will be plenty. 2018 has brought not only the biggest grossing film featuring a mostly black cast and director ("Black Panther"), but it also brought easily one of the best films renegade director Spike Lee has every developed ("BlacKKKlansman") and the upcoming "If Beale Street Could Talk" by "Moonlight" director Barry Jenkins which was lauded in Toronto.


It is also giving us George Tillman's latest film that takes a direct shot at the Black Lives Matter crusade, focusing on the fear and loathing associated when a white cop shoots an unarmed black teenager. But it also reveals the various truths that are buried in the immediate aftermath. The same truths that generally everyone involved as some serious skeletons in their closets.


The film is told through the eyes and voice of Starr (Amandla Stenberg) who lives in a low income predominately black neighborhood of Garden Heights. But as she explains right away, she gets her book education at the predominately white Williamson High School where she has learned to fit in. She hasn't lost her perspective, it's what her parents want.

Though her black friends get it, they still tease her about her two lives - and these are some of the lighter moments of the film. Equally light is the way her white classmates perceive her; even her white boyfriend. But during the weekends, she stays in her neighborhood and keeps grounded while always being encouraged by her former gang-banger father (Russell Hornsby) and protective mother (Regina Carter).


One particular weekend, at a party (parties is where everything starts to deteriorate), she hooks up with a friend, Khalil (Algee Smith) and leaves with him. On the way, they get stopped by white cops and Khalil gets mistakenly shot and killed.


There is immediate backlash as the local Black Lives Matter leader (Issa Rae) starts guiding Starr to speak up about what happened. However, she gets caught between the police not wanting her to talk (her uncle - played by Common is a cop) and a local drug dealer (Anthony Mackie) who also insists she keep quiet because it turns out Khalil was working for him. Things are not what they seemed at first, but the fact remained Khalil was unarmed.


The film tells so many truths about the current tensions currently in the black neighborhoods, it's bizarre. It is a brutal essay much like "Do The Right Thing", "Boyz In The Hood", "Dear White People" and too a lesser extent "New Jack City".


The acting is spot on with only Russell Hornsby truly standing out, however the ensemble is rock solid as a whole. The story doesn't depict an overtly aggressive police force as Kathryn Bigelow's "Detroit" did, but it reveal a jittery white police force with nervous trigger fingers. (This is the second film with Mackie and Smith - they were in "Detroit".)


The most noticable feature in the film is the smooth cinematography and coloring. Tillman depicts the Garfield Heights neighborhoods in warm hues of red while depicting the Williamson white areas in colder starker blue hues.


"The Hate U Give" is another outstanding film with a predominately African American cast and creative core. It takes probably the most realistic look at the current tension than any other film to date.   -- GRADE B+ --   GEOFF BURTON