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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
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.
I have seen La Haine a handful of times now and with each viewing it just
The first thing that stands out about the film is the cinematography. It's rare that a film like this is considered both genuine and a good example of it's art but La Haine is both.
The plotline is compelling and realistic and neatly shows the way that inner city life has gone in the big cities in France as well as proving that despite the romance of Paris, it suffers from the same problems as any other major city.
The characters are above all believable and the cast did a great job. The quality of acting is simply stunning from several actors and it would be a shame if it was simply dismissed as "just another foreign art-house movie" by audiences outside France.
Above all the film whilst showing the influences of American films and society has a very clear sense of it's own identity and at no time does it feel like another US Ghetto film transposed to France. This is a major boon to the film and it stands out of the crowd for this, even though many people will dislike it because of this. It is, however, their loss.
It's hard to recommend this film highly enough, but I should add that more than one viewing is required to get the best from La Haine.
La Haine aka Hate is a story about three friends living near Paris in France
(one Jew, one Arab and one black) who have nothing special in their lives
and try to live a day at a time by drinking and having a good time and also
working (at least the black character, who owns a boxing hall). Their
friend, however, is captured by a police which tortures and maltreats him so
badly that he is sent to a hospital in a critical condition. This makes the
youth gangs in city including the three protagonists start a war against the
police and authorities for the horrible wrongs they and their friend have
suffered, and suddenly they notice the whole society is collapsing, and all
there is is hate and need to revenge...Violence and mayhem is almost
everywhere, including authorities which should do nothing but fight against
This film is powerful and grim. Totally unforgettable is the last scene which at my first viewing time blew me away. It comes very suddenly and there are no warnings what will happen at the end of this film. The message is so important and these marks of the "apocalypse" can be found in our everyday life everywhere. The society is falling and it is "spinning" as the voice over says just before the end credits..The film brings into question such horrific facts as racism which should have passed away long times ago, but no. Racism is such a primitive, stupid and despisable cancer among people, that there is no hope of better future if individuals don't understand the real facts of life and right ways to live with each other. Hate feeds hate as the character Hubert says, and that is something that our stupid race has not learned.
There is one very powerful scene just before the end scene and it deals with a skinhead and these three characters who could kill him right away and pay something back. It is very challenging scene and even Vinz, the most revenge seeking character, starts to see things different way after that. The whole point of La Haine is violence in all its forms. Why there is violence and why the hell it is used so often everywhere in every form? Don't we ever learn? These kind of films are important and so powerful that unfortunately people who should see them don't want to or they can't bacause it would be as a mirror for them..
The film is also a comment on power used by police as they are pretty tough and hard in this film. Police think that they can use any methods in order to get some answers, or in order to have some fun..It certainly doesn't judge police as "pigs" or violent sadists in general, but it is a warning example of what must NOT happen anywhere ever, by police or by others. One has to see through the film and to its core in order to understand what it says. Otherwise there is no point in watching these kind of films. La Haine is that kind of a film that it should be seen by police and youths as well, because there are still possibilities to prevent things to go too far in our life and world we live in.
The camera techniques used in this film are magnificent. Director/screenwriter Mathieu Kassovitz uses camera so smoothly and passionately and there are many similarities in techniques between this film and his more recent, Assassin(s). I am very happy for this young talent to have won the director's award at Cannes. These kind of talents deserve their prizes because there are so many stupid and worthless films which don't have nothing artistic in them and have nothing to say, and are just mindless and greedy entertainment. The black and white is very great element and the film strikes greatly without colors. The same case is with the Belgian classic Man Bites Dog, by Remy Belvaux, Benoit Poelvoorde and Andre Bonzel.
A great masterpiece in French modern cinema and recommended for the fans of intelligent and important cinema so seldom found from big studios or Hollywood (there are exceptions, of course) nowadays.
I first saw this film in 1997, after seeing and reading reviews about it on
tv and the net for a couple of years. I never thought a film could actually
make you truly think about things around our world, not just how bad it can
be in places like the projects set in the film. I could truly see this
happening where I am from(Rochdale,Manchester,UK).
The situation set in the film is a dark and nasty one. you watch 3 friends fall apart from the aftermath of a riot in a parisian project.a friend is near-fatally injured in police custody, which sparks a chain of events, part forced onto the 3 friends, part of self-inflicted.
the acting is amazing. Vincent Cassel's performance is electrifying. his mentality is distorted with hate(hence the film name), but you truly feel he is not a bad seed. His problem is he can't see the wood for the trees, which Hubert tries to point out to him.
Hubert is a character who has the potential to better his life, but he is trapped in his parisian project cell. he tries to guide vinz to a healthier and more productive way of thinking about life.
said seems to be the one who doesn't want trouble, but it is thrust upon him. he sees the relationship between hubert and vinz, his 2 best friend, deteriorate, but doesn't know who to side with, or what to do about it.
Mathieu Kassovitz made this film in a way that you feel for both the police and the the 3 friends. It is amazing to watch, as mathieu takes the simplest things, and makes them look classy(check out the DJ scene for a true example of what I mean). he uses black and white as to colour, and it doesn't look fake, or cheesy. in fact it enhances the film more than you could imagine. you won't sit there and wish he filmed it in colour by the end. the action, although relatively mild compared to todays film, is believable.
speaking about the end, it is one of the most simplest and powerful endings I have seen in a film yet. the soundtrack is awesome too. who would have thought french hip-hop would sound so sweet.
Moviemakers when filming French based films have traditionally tended to
sentimentalise the people' through the celebration of les petits gens, the
little people of Pagnol and Clair as well as more recently the fantastical
Parisian wonderland environments of Amelie and Moulin Rouge. With La Haine,
young director Mathieu Kassovitz took the flipside of this and gave an
illustration of the awfulness of life in the depressed blue-collar areas of
La Haine (Hate') begins after a night of rioting on a dismal housing estate on the northern outskirts of Paris and focuses on 24 hours in the lives of three close friends aged around 20. They are Vince (Vincent Cassel), an explosive working-class Jew, Hubert (Hubert Kounde), a handsome, soft-spoken black, and Said (Said Taghmaoui), a mercurial streetwise Arab. With little hopes or prospect of regular employment due to where they come from, the trio drift aimlessly, engaging in petty theft, and seething with aggressive resentment against an uncaring world. L'Avenir c'est nous (We Are the Future) is the ironic slogan on the estate's playground, but this is a film about people who believe they have no future.
The quality of the performances from the 3 main actors, their conviction, the way they interact with one another and the vigour and fluency of Kassovitz's script and direction make this a very special movie indeed. Its full of action, detail, unexpected incidents and quirky humour. For instance, the boys have a bizarre encounter in a public lavatory in central Paris with a diminutive survivor of the Gulag that is as puzzling to them as it is to us. Does the story the Gulag survivor tells them have a deeper meaning than on the surface? Of course it does, and importantly this film makes you think as to what the metaphor means. Throughout violence is always on the point of erupting. There are constant confrontations with a brutal, racist police force, and Vince has a 44 Magnum revolver that a plainclothes cop lost during the riots, which we know will eventually be used on someone. However none of this ever descends into mere gratuitous violence like so many Hollywood films
La Haine presents a state of affairs of the alienation faced by many young people in the projects' in France, and all over the world. It doesn't offer any solutions, though the point is forcibly made that in France, as elsewhere, parts of the police force are part of the problem rather than the solution. Of course, much of what we are shown is familiar to us from British and American films .
The strength of the film is that it neither glamorises nor patronises its characters. They hate their life because it's boring, and they despise the society that's created it for them, together with parks, football fields and a few mod cons with which to comfort them. In particular, they hate the police, who hate them right back. The film's other major achievement is to show in a tangible and very expressive way how a cycle of distrust and anger is created on both sides of this awful divide, so that there is very little anyone can do about it. In other words violence and hate breeds more violence and hate.
A criticism that could be levelled is that in the US / UK versions the sub-titles don't help, pushing what is very authentic dialogue into something more like cliché, as well as pointless miss-translations that occur. However this is just a minor thing, and does not and should not reflect at all on the film itself.
This certainly is one of the greatest films of the 1990s. Its one of those rare films that you will think about for the days and weeks after not solely about the film itself, but on wider issues such as society, poverty and racism.
When the riots broke out last autumn in Paris..the first thing I
thought about was this movie. I put on the TV and all the scenes
reminded me off the best movie ever made in Europe, and the best on the
subject...La Haine The first time I saw the movie in 2003, we was gonna
watch it for school. At first I thought it was gonna be another french
movie about a young french girl that got pregnant(we watched a lot of
those in French lessons)...but what followed was probably the most
defining 90 minutes in my life.
When the movie started with the images of riots (real riots, old news footage) combined with Bob Marley's "Burning and Looting" I was getting fascinated about this movie, this had to be good. A lot of things were very recognizable, everyone knows a "Said", everyone knows a "Hubert" and at the time I was feeling like "Vinz". All the scenes influenced me and were very recognizable, the hanging around with friends, the way of talking, the arguments they used for their deeds...everything. The end shocked me and I couldn't really think anything else then "I got to watch this movie again", and the day after I bought a DVD of it.
The movie tells the story of a black, Arab and Jewish guy who live in a housing project near Paris, the kind of neighborhood where most of the people don't have a job, where the youth bores itself and flirts with criminal behavior, where drugs are being sold and where an occasional riot starts (this happened from the 80's until recently from time to time). The movie follows them 24 hours after their friend Adbel got beat up by the police during the riots, where a cop lost his gun. Vinz (the Jewish guy) found the gun and swears that when Abdel dies he's gonna take vengeance by killing a police. With Vinz - not being the most stable nor the most smart and relaxed person - having a gun on him the three come in some hard situations, but also without the police gun they have enough problems during the 24 hours....I ain't gonna spoil anything, but this should be enough to make you wanting to watch this movie.
After watching it a couple of times I realized that this was a story, I always thought it was a documentary, which is a big compliment to the whole crew I think. But still that didn't made the movie less strong, the greatest thing about it is that it isn't easy made, no clichés...when you watch an American movie on the subject there always is some form of exit for the main character or he dies in a way that makes you think he deserves it. So either way a character is portrayed as a nice guy or a total bad guy, who both have girl who want to get them out of troubles. This is where La Haine sets itself apart from other movies, it doesn't try to portray the characters as nice people, although you do feel sympathies for them. The best thing is the end, which sets the movie mostly apart and makes it more recognizable for the European crowd (I'm not gonna spoil it, but if it ended differently the movie wouldn't been so great) The way it is shot in black and white makes it look realer, makes it grimier, it portrays the banlieues as a place without an exit. That's what maybe sets the movie also apart, the black and white makes it look arty and grimy at the same time. Maybe the best is that it still doesn't look dated because of that.
Another great thing is the soundtrack, all the songs that are used in the movie have a great effect on the images and visa versa. Bob Marley perfectly fits the riots, Isaac Hayes fits the hashish packing and smoking scenes, Zapp and Roger fits the break dance song perfectly and the Expression Direct fits the haunted car scene in inner city Paris perfect (if you can understand the lyrics). But what really sets this movie apart is the Cutkiller scene, this scene only made me wanted to get a set of SL1200's...
The way the tension is build in the movie is great, most of the time the characters don't do anything, but you still feel the tension building, the hate growing, and when you maybe bored watching some scenes the first time (the "candit-camera" scene for instance and the "eiffeltower" scene), but afterwards they're like pieces of a puzzle falling into it's place. Some shots are brilliantly, the Taxi Driver imitation of Vinz at the beginning (when you already see that Vinz is losing it), the police interview shot with Said and Hubert, the discussion at the toilets, the way the characters are introduced, the subway shot...it's all eye candy.
To make a conclusion, if you love hip hop and don't think the police as necessarily the representation of the good in society. of course when you love cinema it is also a good movie, but it really is a movie which has it own public: the youth. If your Dutch try to get hold of the 7 euro Freerecord shop version, but I can recommend the English 10 year anniversary more...the directors commentary, trailers and bonus material make this a really nice DVD. But I can understand why a lot of people don't like it, it doesn't offer solutions, it doesn't give an opinion on anything except the police, and of course you have to have a certain frame of mind to like the movie.
Out of nowhere this film came along, blew me away, and left me begging for more. A totally original and brilliant piece of work by writer/director Mathieu Kassovitz -- Hate is one of the best films I have ever seen. Vincent Cassel gives a draw dropping performance, but the real star of this film is the dangerous screenplay. Few films have left me in as much awe as Hate. A must see.
In 1995, Mathieu Kassovitz wrote and directed a film that showed the
controversial truth; "La Haine", which translates to "Hate", a film
deemed so important the then-prime minister Alain Juppé arranged a
special screening and ordered his entire cabinet to watch the film.
Kassovitz rightfully won the Best Director award at the Cannes festival
for his film that had and still has a huge impact on French society. La
Haine mixes ethnics to emphasise the overriding importance of
solidarity against the police. In my opinion, the greatest film ever
made. A cinematic phenomenon so close to my heart.
It is the day after the riots on an underclass French estate (the film opens with real footage of riots with the suitable soundtrack of Bob Marley's Burnin' and Lootin'). A youth named Abdel had been caught and beaten by the police and is now in critical condition. One of his very best friends, Vinz (Jewish), had found a cop's weapon. He swears that if Abdel dies he will kill a cop. The majority of the film revolves around Vinz and his two other friends Hubert (Afro-Caribbean) and Saïd (North African) roaming around their ghetto and suburbs of Paris. Set just within 24 hours, this is just a glimpse of the chaos.
There is an image in La Haine where Vinz (Vincent Cassel) imitates Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver) in the mirror; "You talking' to me?" and then points his fingers like a gun and fires. This is not an action he only does once as he repeats it twice during the film. But why? He has a gun. Is this preparation? Yes. Vinz has to prepare because he is scared. And he has to see what it looks like, to make sure it looks "cool", as when he does kill a cop, he will get an undeserved respect by his peers. There is another scene in which Vinz and Hubert bump into a cop while trying to run from this. Vinz' first instinct is to pull the gun on him, this shows that the first instinct has now become violence. The reaction to violence is fear (which is apparent in the cops face until Hubert knocks him out). Fear creates hate; or, the thought and idea of hate. Like the youths feel they are supposed to hate the cops. Vinz is the angriest central character, but when he had his chance, he hesitates; consequences are not forgotten. Cassel performs Vinz with brute force, not failing to portray his character for a second.
Hubert (Hubert Koundé), the most subtle character in the film, remains quiet and gentle, although he is a boxer; or a fighter; for the majority of the film. He has a longing to escape. He has no idea who to trust. Everyone is a thug. This is the stereotype that has been created. But not even a thug wants this thought about them. He is always watching the hatred breed around him but never takes part. But when it comes to the cut, the action and reaction is always the same and he proves himself wrong. Koundé put a lot of effort into his role and earns his praise.
Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui); possibly the most vibrant character of the three, feels as if he has to be something, he hates change but he follows the crowd, he wants to be accepted. He appears to be everybody's friend as he constantly makes jokes. This is because his family is dead so Vinz and Hubert; and possibly Abdel but we don't know since we only ever hear about Abdel, so they are basically his family. But if they get into trouble they wouldn't hesitate to leave each other. It's every man for himself. Cassel, Koundé and Taghmaoui work so well together its as if they have known each other for years.
The youths are stuck on the idea that the cops are there to stop them, and they refuse the idea that the cops are there in fact to protect them. And the youths express hatred with violence. Sexual intercourse is not an issue in this society as it is too dangerous to have a girlfriend, as it will spawn more violence, thus more hatred. La Haine does not offer solutions to all the racism but in fact, shows you in a detailed and mature manner.
Starkly shot in black and white; La Haine has one of my favourite cinematography works. Kassovitz directional style is so inspirational, using rocketing zooms and smooth swerves to get the full view of the destruction. Popular hip hop music is used and heard throughout the film, none of it I would listen to unless I was watching La Haine. The film shows a side of France you can not find on a tourist map. Passion, dedication and effort was well put forward to La Haine. It punches you in the face with its sheer, raw intensity.
The films most important quote is the one it opens and shuts with: - "Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good... so far so good... so far so good. How you fall doesn't matter. It's how you land!". This directly reflects the films content, structure and result. La Haine proves that hatred is in fact the strongest emotion. One of the greatest films of the 90s and of all-time; if there was one perfect film; it would be La Haine.
"La Haine", probably one of the most momentous French movies of the
nineties caused a stir when it opened in 1995 so much so that it became
a big social phenomenon. It heralded a genre: the "film De Banlieue"
whose backdrop is high-risk French suburbs and in its wake, other
movies emerged like "Bye-Bye" (1995) or "ma 6-T Va Crack-Er" (1997).
"La Haine" remains Mathieu Kassovitz's best moment. Afterwards, he
didn't cease to disappoint me. "Assassin(s)" (1997) left me
uncomfortable and queasy and "les Rivières Pourpres" (2000) was an
absolute turkey. I haven't seen "Gothika" (2003) but he shot it with
the Hollywood presence on his back and I fear the worst.
To better be immersed in his plan, Kassovitz shot his film in one of these high-risk French suburbs (I can't remember its name but you can check it in the "filming locations" rubric when you arrive on the page of the film on this site). This gives his movie an ultra-realist sensation which rings true. In the space of a day, his camera follows a threesome of ruffians. There's Vinz (Vincent Cassel) who acts the tough guy. He is proud of having stolen the gun of a cop and hopes to make good use of it. When he is asked to make an effort of reflection, he loses his temper. Hubert (Hubert Koundé) a pacifist who craves to get out of this daily hell but where to go? He also knows that hate breeds hate. It's both the catalyst of the riots and adds fuel to the fire in the incessant conflicts. And also Saïd (Saïd Thagmaouï), a brazen teenager. The three of them wander in their neighborhood and in Paris between visiting of friends, relationships with the riffraff, the police, arguments, reconciliations and foolish things. An ordinary day during which the trio appears as prisoners of their suburbs and have a life with no horizon. A day which will lead to the inevitable, marked out by the time which often appears on a black screen.
Kassovitz did his best to create a stylish film and it paid off well. It was a good idea to have shot his film in a black and white cinematography because it bestows it with a very gritty aura; sometimes there's a documentary whiff which pervades the film. His camera work which commands admiration makes juxtapose travelings, static shots and circular movements according to the vibe a sequence could convey. It also helps to enhance the scenery which is perhaps the fourth main actor of the film after the trio. Overrall, his film is a hard-hitting assessment of a faltering universe (the high-risk suburbs) in which latent tensions and hate reign and it can awake at any time in violence. This hate in question which the inhabitants of these suburbs feel towards the cops is also smoldered in the cops and I wonder if Kassovitz indicts their sometimes intolerable demeanor, especially when some ruffians are kept in police custody. In the beginning of the film, the audience learns that a suspect, Abdel is in a coma at hospital because he was badly injured by the cops during questioning. When they learned this, the toughest guys of these suburbs sparked off a riot. In a way, the attitude of the police helps to fuel the hate and to separate farther the gap and the incomprehension between the inhabitants of these suburbs and the police. That said, Kassovitz doesn't generalize. Not all the cops are monstrous. Check the two sequences when in the first one, a policeman tries to make the riffraff understand in a sensible manner that they can't stay on the roof of a building and the second sequence when Vinz, Hubert and Saïd are in Paris and they ask their way to a policeman who guides them in a polite way.
The actors were discerningly chosen and perfectly directed. It seems that Kassovitz fostered improvisation. It was the right method to confer his film with an authentic feeling. They deliver dialogs full of slang, coarse lines and sometimes they're inaudible so you'll have to be very attentive to catch what they say. However, this drawback isn't really irritating and was surely wanted by the director to reinforce the unique spontaneity of the film. With his build and his face of ruffian, Vincent Cassel was ideally cast as the stubborn Vinz while his two main partners are amazingly true to life. And there are some famous French actors who have cameos and who weren't afraid of having demeaning parts like Vincent Lindon, a drunkard or Zinedine Soualem, a sadistic cop.
Kassovitz remains as objective as possible and doesn't offer solutions to solve these problems. More than ten years after it reached the streets, his films is still a topical one and the riots and violent incidents which broke out in high-risk suburbs in many French cities the last fall alas show that these tensions aren't alas ready to subside.
Rather like Haneke's Code Inconnu, we follow a principle trio of
destitute urban teenagers through 24 hours in episodes, punctuated with
screen splits showing the time - and, invariably, their boredom. There
is no romanticism or squalor in squalid drug dens (unlike in the
contemporary Trainspotting) or any carousel of murder. The boys want to
do their own thing, perhaps collect the pettiest of debts and get
along. Instead their every encounter breaks down into goading and
aggression, however constructively instigated by the boys.
Kassowitz paints bleak sequences, but without a sense of hopelessness. Instead we are left with frustration that there is no intervention to manipulate the intelligence and good intentions of the boys at each chapter of their day. The episode in the private gallery is the perfect example of this; the imaginary cul-de-sac of self-worth that eventually leads them to behave with defensive antagonism is a painful scene.
Vincent Cassel is the money name leading the melodrama. Said Tagmaouhi is a good foil for Cassel's occasionally self-regarding virtuosity, but I was most impressed with Hubert Koundeas, the introspective, middle class manqué third of the three. The film stays true throughout, incorporating Paris as a metropolitan backdrop, rather than a beautiful juxtaposition for pity's sake. A troubling, even angry but positive film. A real benchmark. 7.5/10
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