La Haine (1995)

Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Drama


La Haine (1995) Poster

24 hours in the lives of three young men in the French suburbs the day after a violent riot.


8.1/10
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  • Vincent Cassel in La Haine (1995)
  • Saïd Taghmaoui in La Haine (1995)
  • La Haine (1995)
  • La Haine (1995)
  • Mathieu Kassovitz in La Haine (1995)
  • Saïd Taghmaoui in La Haine (1995)

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26 August 2002 | howard.schumann
Hate Begets Hate
Reminiscent of Costas-Gavras' film Z with its rapid-fire dialogue and staccato rhythms, La Haine (Hate) directed by 28 year-old Mathieu Kassovitz, is a passionate look at racial tensions at a Paris housing project. Although drug dealing, urban decay, and police brutality have been shown in films before, rarely have they had the sense of vitality and urgency shown in La Haine.

Three friends from different ethnic backgrounds live in the Bluebell housing projects on the outskirts of Paris. This is not the Paris of travel brochures or films like Amelie, but a desolate urban landscape, harsh and grim with housing projects that look as if they could be in any big city in the world. Vinz (Vincent Cassel), is a working class Jew; Hubert (Hubert Kounde), the most intelligent and self-reflective of the three, is an African boxer; and Said (Said Taghmaoui), an Arab from North Africa is younger but just as embittered.

The film depicts their rage against the police whom they see as oppressors. Marginalized economically and politically, without jobs, parents who care, or hope for the future, the streets are their home and they are open targets for police who are shown as brutal and racist. In one startling scene, a veteran cop taunts and physically abuses Said and Hubert while training a rookie cop. The rookie can only look on and shake his head in disbelief.

Shot in black and white, La Haine shows a single day in the lives of the three friends. Following a major riot in which a local teenager, Abdel, is critically wounded by the police, Vinz, the most volatile of the group, vows that if Abdel dies he will kill a cop to get even. Hubert wants to restrain him, and Said doesn't seem to care either way, as long as he can get his money from a drug dealer named Snoopy. When Vinz finds a Smith & Wesson 44 lost by the police during the riots, the spiral of violence escalates and builds toward a memorable conclusion.

La Haine does not offer any solutions to social problems but clearly shows the anger and frustration of people who feel trapped by their circumstances. In its depiction of a society in free-fall, it also has immediacy. Three weeks after the film was released, riots broke out in the Brixton section of London, following the death of a young black man in police custody. Though it is a wake-up call for action on society's growing gap between rich and poor, La Haine makes a powerful statement that violence does not solve anything and that hate begets hate. Someone should pass the word to a few of the world leaders.

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