The novel by Angie Thomas is closely adapted for a powerful film. There are opportunities to learn about the themes prime in the story including privilege, family, hardships and sacrifice.
Russell Hornsby is the strength of the film as Maverick, Starr’s father. Amandla Stenberg is a revelation through every tear and every rise of her voice as Starr. Regina Hall is warm and captivating as Lisa, Starr’s mother. I enjoyed the chemistry between her and Russell. K.J. Apa as Chris is wonderfully sympathetic while moving through his privilege and ignorance. Sabrina Carpenter is stunning as Maya. Anthony Mackie gives a chilling performance as King. Algee Smith is heartwarming in the humanity he brings to Khalil in every scene he shares. TJ Wright is remarkable as Sekani, Starr’s brother. Lamar Johnson is funny and bold as Seven, Starr’s brother. Dominique Fishback, Megan Lawless, Rhonda Johnson Dents, Issa Rae, Karan Kendrick and Common form a commanding supporting cast.
Moments of humor break through the tension and anger this family endures. Khalil’s death is an etch in the issues that exist for the people of Garden Heights and the Carter family. Screenwriter Audrey Wells adapts the novel with fresh eyes that educates through art. Thank you for your gift. Director George Tillman Jr. gives life through the camera including Khalil’s last breaths, the protests and the pristine Williamson Prep. A scene could be watched in the eyes of Seven’s younger half-sister. Starr taking off her hoodie and putting it on was prolific, also aided by Costume Designer Frank L. Fleming.
Let this also be known: the 90’s will never perish and macaroni and cheese is a full meal.