Review: ‘La Haine’

A layered conundrum that builds to a stunning crescendo, Mathieu Kassovitz's Hate is an extremely intelligent take on an idiotic reality: the mutual mistrust, contempt and hatred between the police and France's disenfranchised young citizens

A layered conundrum that builds to a stunning crescendo, Mathieu Kassovitz’s Hate is an extremely intelligent take on an idiotic reality: the mutual mistrust, contempt and hatred between the police and France’s disenfranchised young citizens

Kassovitz has achieved a mature tone and narrative cohesion only hinted at in his previous feature, Metisse (Cafe au Lait in the US). The scripter-helmer is a multi-talented force to be reckoned with.

Hard-hitting tale covers less than 24 crucial hours in the lives of three male buddies who personify a generation that’s been relegated to the no-income housing projects beyond Paris.

As title cards precisely clock the passing day, Kassovitz’s edgy, intimate camera follows three ethnically diverse friends. Relatively upbeat, hyper Said (Said Taghmaoui) is of North African heritage. Vinz (Vincent Cassel), his dense lug of a buddy, is a lower-class Jew whose brass knuckles-style ring features carved Hebrew lettering. Their more mature friend Hubert (Hubert Kounde) is a black who conscientiously masters his emotions through boxing.

It’s 10:38 a.m. on May 27 and the news on TV concerns a second-generation Arab who remains in critical condition after having been beaten senseless by police during interrogation. That fact had prompted the young residents of the victim’s housing development to riot the previous evening.

The trio undergoes a subtle, then drastic change on an evening excursion to Paris, during which Hubert and Said are hauled in and interrogated by the cops. The three pals later get in a rumble with skinheads, which prompts an epiphany of sorts. (Kassovitz cameos here as a sniveling skinhead.) The pals finally return to home turf, where an unforeseen conclusion packs a wallop.

La Haine

France

Production

Lazennec/Canal Plus/La Sept. Dir Mathieu Kassovitz; Producer Christophe Rossignon; Screenplay Mathieu Kassovitz; Camera Pierre Aim, Georges Diane; Editor Mathieu Kassovitz, Scott Stevenson; Music Vincent Tulli Art Dir Guiseppe Ponturo

Crew

(B&W) Extract of a review from 1995. Running time: 97 MIN.

With

Vincent Cassell Hubert Kounde Said Taghmaoui Francois Leventhal Edouarde Montoute Karim Belkhadra
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