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La Haine (HD DVD)

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      08.07.2010 18:40
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      A gritty French film which approaches a sensitive issue in modern French society impeccably.

      In 'La Haine', Kassovitz has wonderfully encompassed the opposing views of numerous people and organisations within French society. The group dynamic is key to the fibre of the plot and each individual's independent thoughts are key to the film's success. Vinz is a Jewish man who is shown to hate both the police and society as a whole, after his close friend is critically wounded during a riot. Hubert is a black man who opposes Vinz's hate of the police and wants to escape his life in the depredated suburbs. Saïd is an Arab who hates the police, but is a humourous character who keeps the group together. The police, interestingly, are shown to hate the residents of the suburbs unconditionally. The events take place over 24 hours, a timescale which offers the film a sense of urgency and gives the feeling that the film itself is a ticking time-bomb.

      The film is shot beautifully in black and white, mirroring how the life is drained out of these three men throughout the entire film, and how empty life in the French suburbs can really be. With archive footage of riots opening the film and the slick transition between this and the main feature, it is often hard to distinguish the events of fiction from those of reality. After all, unrest in the French 'banlieues' has been a common feature of recent French society. In this way, this film can be seen as something of a social study which aims to probe the reasons for the hate present in French society today. Fitting, then, that its title is hate itself: La Haine.

      Vengeance, as well as hate, forms a key fibre of the film's plot. Both Vinz and Hubert are shown to want to escape the suburbs, but intend to go about doing so in their own ways. Vincent wants to avenge his friend if he dies after he is shot. He wants society, who opposes and rejects him, to respect him, and aims to gain it through vengeful action. Hubert wants to escape his dead-end life in the suburb, but sees vengeance as pointless.

      Although Vinz is depicted as a sociopath who hates the police, in reality he is simply someone who has lost patience with a system which, in his eyes, favours those in the inner-city and oppresses those who live on the outskirts. When reporters drive by and ask him if he was involved in the riots, he reacts violently, fed up with the ill-treatment he receives from society. As the police is synonymous with the state, he sees an attack on it as a sufficient act of vengeance against those who have wronged him.

      Hubert is used to show the inner hate and despair of the suburbs' inhabitants. In contrast to Vinz, who shows his despair by violently lashing out, Hubert is contemplative and wants to escape the outskirts in search of a better life. As he is shown hitting a punch-bag in an empty gym, we learn that he is no less angry than Vinz, but chooses a different path. He goes to the gym to let his fury out, and rejects the chaos of the riots as a viable option, even when he is directly affected by it. He even shakes a policeman's hand at one point, showing that it is not society itself he hates. He despises his life: he has no job, and no prospects. He wants to leave the violence and criminality of the outskirts.

      Saïd is something of an oddball. Although he hates the police, he hates the suburbs themselves more. He hates the oppression of the inner-city dwellers but directs his anger against those who directly wrong him, like the skinheads he sees upon the rooftop. He is angry with those who have forgotten those in the suburbs. He rejects violence, wittily remarking 'Je cours pas plus vite que les balles' (I can't outrun gunshots), and instead aims to make the best of what he has, pursuing women and seeking money over all else.

      In an astute choice, there is no racial conflict within the group. Despite the well-documented conflict between Arabs and Jewish people in modern French society Vinz and Saïd get on very well together, a notion which sits in stark contrast to the hate the whole group encounters at the hands of society as a whole and appears to have been a conscious script choice from Kassovitz.

      Society is shown to be the cause of their disdain, with the police shown to be the worst of them all. In a position to make a difference, they instead seek to victimise and attack those who live in the suburbs. They let their fury out violently too, and are shown to be brutal in their actions. Society itself rejects these three men, with their visit to a gallery met with unfair jibes and remarks and the doors to society closed firmly behind them. Here, it is clear to see why these men hate the authorities so much: they treat them like outsiders in their own country.

      All of this hate and desire for vengeance boils up over the course of a film which is as defined by its subject matter as it is by its actors. Cassel shines as the fatalistic Vinz, while Koundé and Taghmaoui fill their roles with vigour and realism. The ending is explosive and shocking, and everything you'd expect from such a gritty and raw film. Entirely in French, and incorporating street slang into the mix, this is a film best enjoyed in its native language. The DVD contains English subtitles, and do the job well.

      This is an explosive, gritty and realistic take on a still-current French social problem and continues to be as relevant today as it was when released in 1994. Available on DVD new for £4 on Amazon, this is a must-watch, and is my personal favourite film of all time. With a striking story, passionate performances from all involved and gripping design and development, this is a master-class in film-making by Mathieu Kassovitz.

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        31.12.2009 03:52
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        A Masterpiece. Watch It!

        After watching this film I find it amazing that I have owned it for some time before actually watching it. The film was recommended to me due to my love of City Of God and Gomorrah, and I knew about it long before I even saw them films. When the film finished I wondered why I had taken such a long time to watch it. It is a masterpiece.

        The film focuses around three teenagers living in a french housing project somewhere near Paris. The film is simply one day in their lives and we see them struggling through, caught in the aftermath of a riot caused by police brutality toward one of their friends.

        The three friends are all unique and as well as struggling with their circumstances they struggle to get along with each other. Vinz, a Jewish boy is filled with rage. Sayid, is chatty and more or less happy person. Hubert seems to be the only one who has a grasp of what is going on and sees he needs to get out of the slums to have any sort of future.

        As I mentioned earlier, the story is set around some riots against the police due to police brutality. Everything that happens in the film seems to relate back to this and all the characters have their different reactions. Vinz wants to get his own back, Sayid just wants carry on as normal and Hubert wants to get out, and although the film seems pretty simple and straight forward in that respect it is also very thought provoking.

        If you looker deeper into the story you see that the events and the views of the characters aren't all to do with the police and the riots that are currently taking place around them. The whole story goes much deeper, relating to the poverty that these people constantly have to live in and the constant threats to their safety. As well as dealing with poverty, the film also deals with race relations, the three teenagers are all part of different ethnic groups, and as the film goes on we see that racism is an ever occurring theme.

        As well been thought provoking and gripping the film is very well made and beautifully shot. Firstly, the film is black and white which is by no means a bad thing, it simply adds to the grittiness and realism of the film. As well as this it is beautifully shot throughout. Right from the off as a cocktail glass smashes against the floor, right up until the breathtaking final scene.

        Mathieu Kassovitz directed the film and as I mentioned earlier the direction is excellent. Kassovitz also scripted the film and the dialogue throughout is another major hightlight of the film. The three youths Tarantino-like ramblings and conversation is wildly entertaining. Other than that the dialogue matches the story very well and often there is a hidden meaning behind what is being said.

        The acting throughout the film is superb, Vincent Cassell as Vinz is in typically good form and portrays the anger and uncertaitanty of his character perfectly, and he is definitley the stand out performer in his breakthrough role. Hubert Koundé as Hubert and Saïd Taghmaoui as Sayid both play their roles equally well although, in my opinion slightly overshadowed by Cassell's magnificent performance.

        Overall, this film goes down as one of my all time favourites. I literally can't pick fault with this masterpiece. From beginning to end it has you hooked. It is a gritty and brutally realistic film that you could watch again and again, it also has one of the best endings to a film I have ever seen, as the final credits rolled I was speechless.

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          19.12.2009 19:17
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          Great French drama

          La Haine is an excellent French film that focuses on the extreme racism that exists in French society and the problems France has with integrating those citizens from their former colonies with the ethnic French people. French cities are unusual when compared with those in the UK, in cities like London you find the poverty in the inner city areas with people escaping to the suburbs for a quieter life however in France it is the inner city where the rich live and the suburbs are the dumping ground for the less well off.

          The film focuses on the lives of three young men who have just seen one of their friends killed after some riots were dealt with violently by the police. Vinz played by Vincent Cassel is an aggresive young man and has managed to acquire a gun from a police officer. Said is an equally violent young man interested in money while the last of the three is a black drug dealer called Hubert. Together they manage to keep each other alive however they cannot avoid both the police and the racist skinhead gangs that are still on the streets.

          This is a brutal and violent film that is a areal rollercoaster of emotions, even though each of the three characters are hardly model citizens and not the sort of people you would want to meet in real life you do sort of find yourself rooting for them as each has been dealt a pretty rough hand in life.

          It is the police who are portrayed in the least attractive light and at times their behvaiour is just as arcist as the skinheads in the way they target peole from ethnic backgrounds. The film is subtitled obviously however this did not lessen my enjoyment of the film, indeed seeing the translation made it easier to get a sense of the anger in the words as you were listening to tone rather than content.

          Probably one of my favourite French films alongside the quirky and stylish Diva, this has a Made in Britain feel to it without the innocence and is well worth seeing.

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            17.12.2009 11:00
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            Powerful 1995 French film raising real issues in the banlieues of Paris

            La Haine is a powerful film in French cinematic history. Giving a stark outlook on racial inequality, police brutality and the way youths are influenced by their suuroundings. Set in the banlieues (town suburbs) of Paris, it follows three friends for a day, in the aftermath of riots that has left one of their number dead.

            Thirsty for revenge, we meet Vinz (Vincent Cassel), an extremely violent character who gets hold of a police gun and is all mouth. Cassel plays him effortlessly, and is scarily convincing. I have seen the actor in a number of English speaking roles, but this is a brilliant performance. Said Taghmaoui plays Said, a violent teen always looking to get his money back from various sources. It is this element of the film which provides the travelling nature of the film, as the trio trek around the banlieues, in and out of trouble.

            The third of the group is Hubert. Played by Hubert Kounde, he is a black drug dealer and fighter, but with a splash of common sense and certain moral standards when he realises he is in danger. Definitely the most switched on of the three, he calms the other two down, and is the quietest of them. Despite the excellent acting of the other two, I found his the most powerful and memorable.

            The reason the film is so powerful is the issues it deals with. Racism and polcie brutality are explored, and with one scene in particular towards the end portraying the police as people out for kicks by persecuting people because of their skin colour and not what they might have done. Violence is a big theme in the film, whether it is actual or suggested. There is a lot of violent speech, with threats and bravado an essential for these guys if they are to survive in their environment. Director Mathieu Kassovitz does a very good job of portraying these elements, and showing us that, beneath it all, the trio are nothing more than teens out trying to have fun, and not knowing any different way of doing so.

            I can speak French very well, but I found it very hard to understand some of the lanuguage used here. They speak in slang a lot, a particular style known as 'verlan' and used quite often in the banlieues. It consists of taking a French word, separating it into two parts, and putting the second in front of the first. The name of it itself is the prime example, it being the reverse of l'enver, which translates as 'the reverse'. It's extremely slang orientated, and while the occasional word is obvious, the majority was completely lost on me, and thus subtitles were an essential.

            Usually, subtitles in a film can take away from the visual impact, as I am constantly reading as opposed to taking everything in, and while I'm sure I missed a few things in this film because of it, the majority of the impact is in the vocal acting. There is a lot of talking in the film, and the three leads do an outstanding job of telling a very powerful tale. Great direction, great acting, and stunning visuals, filmed in black and white to provide greater impact, stripped down to the bare essentials so that we get the story true and straight without any clever colour work to emphasise things.

            La Haine, which essentially means 'hatred' in French, is a powerful film that I highly recommend watching. It kept me riveted all the way through, and I would certainly watch it again. It leaves you thinking, pondering the issues it raises and deals with, and those it doesn't.

            The DVD features a few extras, most interestingly an audio commentary from director Kassovitz, who explains the reasons behind his direction, and how the casting came about. It opens your eyes to the film and certain elements of it, and how misplaced anger often manifests itself in injustice, when all anyone wanted in the first place was an eye for an eye. It was after watching this that you realise that Vinz is the main protagonist, the puppet wanting to kill a cop for the death of one of their friends, and that Said and Hubert are like the consciences on his shoulders, the former inciting violence, the latter being the calming influence and asking him to 'laisse tomber', let it rest: Abdel is dead, and hatred only breeds hatred.

            Kassovitz also explains one of the most poweful endings in a film I have ever seen, and it was for this that I watched the audio commentary. Powerful, very powerful indeed. Highly recommended, and although the rest of the extras aren't that special, it's worth getting the special edition to have the combined effect of the film itself and the director's commentary.

            This is no fairytale: it gives respect to the real issues and doesn't try to assume that everything gets resolved in the end. It's available on DVD for £4.58, which is a good price for a powerful film, and one I highly recommend watching.

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              28.10.2009 16:31
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              Encore

              French cinema is not to everyone's taste. There are times it doesn't do itself any favours, of course. At times, it tries too hard to be inaccessible, or controversial simply for the sake of it. It seems wrapped up in its own self absorption, closed off to all but the most dedicated cinema goers, who'll sit in some fleapit night after night smoking endless Gauloises, and appreciating the niceties of mise en scene. Nevertheless, the French film industry doesn't need Hollywood's millions, approval or awards ceremonies to sustain it, and the French seem to like it that way, so they're obviously doing something right.

              If I wanted to defend French cinema using an example, I'd have La Haine coming out of the blue corner every time. It is, quite simply, my favourite film ever. As this is my fiftieth film only review on dooyoo, I thought it was about time.

              La Haine was released in 1995 and was Mathieu Kassovitz's second ever feature film, his first, "Matisse" coming out in 1993 with more modest acclaim. Mathieu's father Peter fled to France from Hungary after the 1956 coup to become a film director (credits include "Jakob the Liar" starring Robin Williams), and his paternal grandparents were Jewish concentration camp survivors.

              The film follows a day in the life of three "banlieusards" (estate-dwellers): Hubert (played by Hubert Kounde) of black sub-Saharn African extraction, Said (played by Said Taghmaoui) who is Arabic and Vinz (played by Vincent Cassel), a white Jew.

              Some explanation may inform your viewing of this film. La Haine is set in a "banlieu" and the best translation would be council estate, except these are the ones you find just outside city centres, mainly of apartment blocks surrounding a central square, play area or park. Another translation would be suburb, because banlieusards would literally mean suburb-dwellers, except in Britian the concept of suburbia is more middle class.

              Indeed, until World War Two, the word "banlieu" did indeed evoke to the French a semi-rural environment with small houses and gardens, but those planners of the 60's and their ideas changed things. They tried to recreate a living area for the urban workforce which would be a peaceful oasis away from the bustle of city life, while remaining all the same in close proxinmity to it. They also tried to cope with a population influx of rural French and immigrant labourers, the latter mainly from North Africa. Their solution was to build the cut-price modernist HLMs ("habitations a loyer modere", basically council flats) typified by the tower block and rabbit hutch accommodation seen on this side of the Channel, with similar problems regarding funding and disrepair. Such were the size of these estates, they became known as "cites", literally "cities". The areas they were situated in were the banlieus, the estates surrounding the city centre, and the inhabitants known as banlieusards.

              You may have realised by now I can't do the funny French accents over the letters, or cedillas, or anything else clever like that. I'm about as technologically advanced as Harry Patch.

              Anyhow, at the time the film was released, even the victorious right wing Chirac was going on about doing something to heal the "fracture sociale" that had divided the banlieusards from the rest of society. There had been riots in the banlieus of Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Lille some three years earlier, and a new counter-culture had formed out of the deprivation and cynicism of these overpopulated and under-employed cites. One notable product of this counter-culture was a new street slang, used as a marker of its own identity: verlan.

              No matter how good your GCSE French is, unless you're a native speaker, you're going to need the subtitles here. Verlan is used by the banlieusards constantly throughout the film, as they would in life. A rule of thumb would be to reverse the syllables of a word - for example, "car" would be "voiture" in French but "turvoi" in verlan - but it's not a hard and fast rule and goes beyond even that. There are linguistic imports, such as Arabic slang, and even the title of the film bases itself on the verlan preference for "avoir la haine" ("to have hate") rather than the mainstream French infinitives "detester" or "hair" (both literally meaning "to hate"). Largely lost on an English-speaking viewer, this multi-ethnic argot betrays a banlieusard's background in his speech, and carries with it associations of criminality and chavness to a more bourgeois listener.

              Back to our three protagonists, alliteratively referred to as "black blanc beur" ("beur" was originally the verlan word for "arabe", yet passed so completely into the French mainstream language, it too has now been re-verlanised as "rebeu"), and we see them meeting up the morning after a riot the night before. Said calls round for Vinz, and they go to the burnt-out gym to see Hubert, the proprietor, who's punching the heavy bag. The three mates are smoking weed, as young men do, and they leave the derelict building to go about their business.

              Along the way, we learn a couple of salient points about the previous night's riot: it was caused by the hospitalisation of Abdel Ichaha, a friend of the three, at the hands of the police under interrogation, and that a policeman's handgun went missing during the riot.

              We follow as the three unemployed banlieusards' lives unfold throughout the day. They go with Said to visit a fence who owes him money, they go with Hubert to do some drug dealing, they talk with friends about the events of the riot. Vinz boasts about the beatings he gave the police, yet he is also convinced that at one stage he saw a cow.

              A little later, Vinz shows his compadres a little secret: he was the one who got hold of the gun taken from the police last night. Said is impressed, Hubert angry and dismissive. They head on to the hospital to check on Abdel, Vinz packing the gun but not telling the others.

              At the hospital, the police refuse the banlieusards permission to see Abdel, and Vinz reacts in an overly aggressive way. A confrontation ensues, and Said is hauled off to the local nick (also destroyed in the riot), with the other two following on in tow as witnesses. Local beat cop Samir gets Said released as a favour to his elder brother Nordine, who he's worked with, and promises to help Hubert get funding to re-build his gym. Vinz remains belligerent, and refuses to shake Samir's hand.

              By now you're getting a feel for the characters: the black Hubert is strong yet wise, the Jewish Vinz hot-headed and aggressive and the Arabic Said the wheeler-dealer and joker of the pack, all perhaps in contrast to conventional racial stereotyping. It's this sense of depth and realism that lends real credibility to life on the cites, and we are then shown a contrast, when the trio travel to the central Paris area that the tourists see, for the purpose of collecting a re-assigned debt. There, Said is pleasantly surprised that a policeman he asked directions from used the "vous" form of address - a formality and politeness from an authority figure obviously so far foreign to him.

              But not all cops are the same. I realise I've told you much already, but be prepared to see two of our heroes get some serious police brutality, and some horrible racist abuse. It's another part of life on the streets, as seen from a banlieusard's point of view, and presented starkly to a mainstream French audience. Indeed, it was the world that was watching, with excluded sections of many other countries the world over able to identify with the hardships faced by our young "black blanc beur" trio.

              There's so much more to admire. In typically French moments of self-absorption, Kassovitz arranges for pairs of conversations to happen at the same time, both equally audible, as if to create a nightmare when it comes to subtitling for a non-French speaking audience, a problem the subtitlers don't really get to grips with. He plays with focus shots, and sound. Apart from the very start and very end, the whole film is in black and white, albeit that it was originally shot in colour. Hip hop music is predominant in the soundtrack, as it is in the cites, and there are some fantastic displays of DJ mixing and breakdancing. Despite the macho bravado and sexist aggression, the female matriarchs are given respect, while the male authority figures are either impotent or challenged. The banlieusards aren't depicted as angelic victims either - our trio come across as real jerks at times, as on one occasion their crass and boorish behaviour sees them excluded from an art gallery.

              "It's about a society falling" - well, there were riots again in 1995, 1997 and 2005, and again it was exclusion, unemployment and racism (including the rise of Le Pen's National Front) behind it all. Ask any French Arab you meet what La Haine means to him, and whether anything has changed. I won't speak for him or her, but those I've talked to tell me the film is still relevant today. The mirror it held up to French society then has the same reflection now. Unfortunately, French society simply chooses to look the other way, especially now with Sarkozy elected to power. Expect more rioting in the banlieus in the years to come.

              Finally, I simply haven't seen a better ending to a movie than this one. End of.

              This is a film that will make you laugh in some places, and shock you in others, but will ultimately make you think. If French subtitled black and white cinema isn't really your thing, then think again. The global appeal should tell you that this is no ordinary piece of arty French extravagance, but an accessible and entertaining work we can all have an opinion about.

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                19.09.2009 19:21
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                Stunning feature debut from Mathieu Kassovitz

                note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room

                La Haine (hate) is an extremely powerful film about how life is in the banlieues (slums) in France. The French cities are set out such that, instead of the richer areas all being out in the countryside, it is the poorer areas that sit on the outskirts, all facing in at each other such to only enhance the atmosphere of dread and depression that runs rampant throughout. This film examines the victims of that system, both as it means that they internalise the violence upon each other, and therefore find nothing but disrespect for the police.

                The protagonist is Vinz (Vincent Cassel), an angry young man who emulates a lot of macho anti-heroes that he sees on TV, chiefly Robert DeNiro's performance as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver. He claims to be prepared to murder a cop in order to win respect. On the other end of the spectrum is his friend Hubert (Hubert Koundé), a boxer and drug dealer who is also the most philosophical of the group - he hates the violence and sense of dread and turmoil around him, but is largely unable to stop it. Thirdly is Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui), who simply tries to keep things between the two on an even keel.

                This is a harrowing look at a dark time in France's social history - at a time when violence was particularly rife in the banlieues, this was immensely powerful and resonant with an entire population of people who felt as though they had no way out of the abject poverty of the slums. It's also interesting as a study of male anxiety, how the men feel that they need to exaggerate their masculinity in order to feel validated.

                An extremely engrossing film with a very real commentary on "yob culture" and the police also. Cassel shines as the protagonist, and the ending is not only overwhelmingly tense, but extremely well-done. A great film.

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                19.09.2009 11:10
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                Outstandin french film!

                La Haine or "The Hate" is a 1995 French film that, interestingly, is entirely in black and white. I only discovered the film recently though it was critically acclaimed at the time of its release. It is a touching yet violent film that depicts the reality of life in the Parisian suburbs.

                ~Plot~
                The film is set over a single day and follows three very different young men who despite their occasional arguments are very close friends. Firstly, there is Vinz, a Jewish wanabee gangster, next up is Hubert who despite seeming fairly quiet and gentle is actually a boxer and drug dealer, finally is Said who is the happy go lucky personality of the trio. Together the boys make their way through a day in a French council estate.

                However, this is no ordinary day as the previous evening there were brutal riots on the streets. A young man(and friend of the three boys) called Abdel Ichaha has been left in a coma after been beaten by police. As tensions rise on the estate word comes around that a policeman lost his gun the previous evening, and guess who found it. Our wanabee hardman Vinz is now in possession of a loaded revolver and a vendetta against the police. With police swarming all over will the three boys make it through a day without trouble? With Vinz promising to shoot a policeman is Ichaha dies will it really be a case of a life for a life?

                ~Cast~
                Vincent Cassel- Vinz
                Hubert Kounde-Hubert
                Said Raghmaoui-Said
                Cassel is in the starring role and he truly does shine. Whilst the film centers on a place where hatred and violent are so prevalent he manages to inject little bursts of comedy which stops the film becoming suffocating. At the same time, he acts out the more dramatic scenes perfectly and we feel empathy with a boy who his just tired of his situation.
                Kounde brings calm to the film and delivers some of the most quoted lines such as
                "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!"
                And
                "If you hate stayed in school, you'd know that hate breeds hate, Vinz."
                Kounde acts well and though his character isn't exactly likeable it's easy to see where he is coming from.
                Raghmaoui presents us will a chippy, upbeat guy who underneath is naive, vulnerable and more than a little afraid. I think of him as the younger brother of the film who follows Vinz and Hubert around.
                ~Music~
                The films soundtrack is, unusually, provided by a hardcore French rap group called Assassin. Though it isn't the time of music I would usually listen to it suits the mood of the film well and is very passionate.

                ~Extras~
                These are as follows.
                Audio Commentary by the Director
                Behind The Scenes
                'After The Riots' - An essay on La Haine
                Trailers
                I haven't watched the extras so can't comment on them but there seems a reasonable selection.

                ~My Opinion~
                I think that La Haine is a moving, emotional film that is both hard hitting and thought provoking. The most important thing about this film, in my opinion, is the realism it shows as it was originally released just after several bad riots in Paris. The moral of the film is that hatred is wrong and that hate only makes things worse. This movie is important as it tries to show why this level of hatred is wrong without putting the blame on one group of people.
                There is a great sense of build up within the film and the drama increases with great momentum hurtling towards the conclusion. The three main actors create this tension brilliantly and each and every one of them gives an outstanding performance. The lack of colour also helps with the sense of drama as well as portraying the monotony of the lives of the residents of the estate.
                The only negative points I can think of is the amount of violence and strong language in the film. However, I feel that is to be expected for a film about this subject matter so if you're easily offended it's probably best to give this film a miss.
                In conclusion, La Haine is a touching, well-made film that is completely relevant today. It was not afraid to explore a subject that was still very raw in the minds of some Parisians and has done so in a sensitive yet honest manner. I would completely recommend this fantastic film as it's one of the best I've seen in years.

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                  03.08.2009 21:14

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                  Film

                  La Haine is the story of a struggle in the suburbs of the city of love... o you thought that's all Paris is? well we are a long way from Amelie my friend. This film is hard, it hold back no punches and its aim is to shock, shot in gritty black and white La Haine is a symbol of what little hope was left in Paris during the time.
                  This film is shocking, its three characters leave you bewildered by the lack of control they have and the heartless situation they find themselves in everytime they wake up. This emotion is almost at boiling point throughout the whole film, and you can cut the tension with a knife as restless youths take on police brutality with thoughprovoking extremes only matched by 'Do The Right Thing'
                  La Haine was made to be a slap in the face of the French society, it was an image of the city that the world had never seen before and frankly didn't really care about. All that changed with La Haine, we got a real image of what life was like on the streets of France and it was forced down our throats whether we wanted to know or not. La Haine remains to this day as one of the most provocative films ever released, so much so that it even caused the French government to act upon police brutality.

                  The biggest achievment made as a film though is the building of characters, not often do you really connect with every character in a film but with La Haine you truly do. Maybe it's because you can connect with the normality of all the characters involved, or maybe its because Kassovitz injects just enough humanity and raw emotion into every character, which in the end, makes every character involved seem to have a heart that strives for good.

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                  28.07.2009 15:23
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                  An excellent film and a very thoughtful portrayal of racism and brutality in an inner city

                  WHAT IS IT: La Haine is a French film - shot in black and white and released in 1995 - directed and written by Mathieu Kassovitz. It is in French with English subtitles and is around 90 minutes long. The film centres around 3 young men living on an impoverished housing estate in France. Vinz (Vincent Cassel), a French Jew, is full of rage at the injustices he is subjected to and the constant state of tension between the police and local youths in the aftermath of riots. Said is a talkative Maghrebin (French but of Moroccan/Algerian/Tunisian/Libyan/Mauritanian descent) who shares Vinz's dislike of the police but tries to keep the peace between everyone. Hubert is an Afro-French boxer and drug dealer who is philosophical about the situation he sees around him even when his gym gets burnt down during the riots. He suspects Vinz may have been involved and finds his aggressive attitude irritating. When a friend of the young men is put into a coma as a result of police brutality and Vinz finds a police officer's gun, he vows to kill a cop if the young man, Abdel, dies. The three young men have a number of run-ins with the police as well as encountering racism at the hands of a gang of skinheads.

                  STYLE: Starkly shot in black and white, the film flits between the real and surreal. Many of the scenes have little action in them and instead focus on the dialogue between the three men which seems like an accurate portrayal of how young men really interact with each other even down to Said's constant retelling of the punchlines of weak jokes. The violence in the film is not gratuitous and the scenes in which Said and Hubert are held by police officers are shocking in their brutality without seeming cheap or deliberately provocative. The gritty subject matter of the film is reflected in the lack of colour but the bursts of the surreal stop the film from being too 'worthy' or pretentious. There is a whimsical element in the film which works very well in contrast with the serious subject matter. The film is set to French hip-hop with works beautifully with sweeping shots of cityscapes and the veering overhead view of the estate which leaves the viewer feeling as high as the protagonists!

                  VINZ: Played beautifully by Vincent Cassel, Vinz fancies himself as a gangster and rehearses the 'You looking at me?' scene from Taxi Driver in the bathroom mirror. He sees it as a kill or be killed world but his reaction to the music being played from the upper floors of tenement blocks shows that he'd rather be a dancer than a fighter. It is never made clear whether he was involved in the trashing of Hubert's gym but there is an uneasiness between the two of them which makes for compelling viewing.

                  SAID: Said is quite lovable in a motor-mouthed kid kind of way. You sense that his almost constant babbling and cheeky nature may well get him into trouble in the future and there is an innocence about him which could be dangerous for him in a world where the police seize upon the tiniest excuse to arrest youths, particularly non-whites.

                  HUBERT: Hubert is the strong silent type and muses on the state of the world around him. He does all that he can to provide for his family, a responsibility which we don't see from the other two men. He longs to escape the slums and his frustration at the hatred and violence around him is very hard to watch. For someone who says so little, he has an incredible emotional impact.

                  GOOD POINTS: I really enjoyed this film. It constantly kept my attention without resort to flash-bang special effects as many films would when dealing with the subjects of urban unrest, racism, violence and police brutality. It avoids showing the riots apart from the documentary footage over the opening credits, preferring to show the aftermath of the riots by showing what the characters have lost, such as Hubert's wrecked gym. The key performances are superb and the dialogue is so natural that it is very easy to watch and you instantly become engaged with the characters. The violence in it is very striking in it's brutality but does not go on for too long and does not feel forced - it actually serves the story which unfortunately is quite rare in films these days. The surreal elements serve to break up the story and give the sense that even in the midst of horrible surroundings there is always room for laughter and amusement. The soundtrack is fantastic and the use of music in the film is absolutely seamless.

                  BAD POINTS: My main gripe with this film is that Mathieu Kassovitz plays the skinhead that tries to attack the three protagonists. He is quite clearly Jewish as is Cassel and his presence as a skinhead disrupts what is otherwise a very realistic portrayal of racism in an inner city area. There are moments where the film lags a little but these are not frequent enough to ruin it for me.

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                    03.01.2009 13:22

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                    One of the Best French Films Ever

                    This is one of my favourite French films of all time, the story of a troubled Paris estate and one day in the life of three young men from varying backgrounds through the course of that extraordinary day. Based on true events, this is a brutally powerful film, the perfomances are gritty, realistic and uncompromising. The setting is dark and bleak the black and white film adds to the sence of foreboding and hopelessness, this is a political commentary on France in the early 90's and paints a picture of a class divide and a disillusionment in authority. The music is contemporary French rap, fitting the mood, the setting and the film perfectly, the acting is hard and gritty, the direction allows the actors to tell the story but is stylish and nuanced enough to show the city and environment to its fullest potential. This is a great explosive story of one day that changes three mens lives forever, its an exceptional film, with exceptional performances. Great value and great extra's including directors commentary and music videos.

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                    23.11.2008 05:38
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                    In a word, stunning.

                    Overview
                    The tale of three friends in a Paris housing estate shortly after a great riot which has rocked Paris.

                    Review
                    This is certainly not the sort of film I normally watch or would look to buy myself. Its good to have an open mind though. Often in life, its when you do something slightly out of the usual, something you wouldn't normally do, that you experience something truelly wonderful. This is certainly the case with La Haine.

                    It premiered at the 1995 Cannes film festival were it won the best film prize before going on to win numerous other awards. These often seem to be prizes for grittiness to me, who can make the obscurest, least enticing film idea wins the prize. I suppose this is the case with La Haine. So what I'm apparantly saying is despite winning these awards this is still a good film.

                    La Haine follows three young men; Vinz a revenge driven, unpredictable nutcase, Hubert a calm, level headed African boxer and Said essentially a middle ground between the two, wandering listlessly round the poverty stricken area of the city they can't escape from. All's not well on the streets of Paris. Following the riots in which the protaganist's friend was seriously wounded, there is a great deal of tension between young people and the police.

                    There is a definite 'us and them' attitude amongst the young people in the neighbourhood. The atmosphere is taut and foreboding. We learn that a policeman lost his gun in the chaos of the riots. Vinz and Said drift around the neighbourhood. Boredom reigns. They meet up with their friend Hubert in the boxing gym which has fallen victim to the rioters. They discuss the lost gun and what it might mean if someone from the neighbourhood were to find it. We learn that Vinz desires revenge against the police for what has happend to their friend. From then on we chart this fractal and troubled friendship as we follow them through the mean streets of Paris in a constant battle with authority and more often than not each other.

                    Its hard to describe what tangible factor makes La Haine so fresh and enjoyable to watch. On face value it certainly doesn't sound as such. But the characters and events are all so starkly believable that you find yourself really caring about what happens to them at every turn.

                    La Haine has so much going against it: its French, its in French, its in black and white, its called La Haine what does that mean, and err its French. Despite all this and I suspect to an extent because of all this I was very suprised just how good La Haine was. A film surpassing your expectations is always nice.

                    Looking at these riots and I suppose racial tension in general La Haine does a fairly good job of remaining even-handed, looking at the factors and parties involved. We see idiocy on both sides, we see police brutality and of course we see the urban squalor that has given rise to the resentment and dissatisfaction that brings about the violence in the first place.

                    I can say now that the performances in La Haine are without exception brilliant. But I never thought the acting was good while actually watching the film simply because the actors deliver such unnervingly convincing performances that I never once saw it as acting at all. We're not talking in-your-face powerhouse performances like say Daniel Day Lewis in There Will be Blood, more; effortlessly genuine underplayed performances portraying the full gamut of human emotion and frailty.

                    This genuine quality is what makes La Haine such an immersive and involving experience. Film experiences such as this can often be unpleasant and difficult to watch despite being of high quality. La Haine despite the unremitting harshness of the environment isn't. This is either because of the warmth of the characters and there somehow persevering friendship or just because this world is evoked so well you just appreciate it all the more however harrowing it might be.

                    La Haine reperesents a unique film experience which defies classification. By turns funny, shocking and thought provoking La Haine just leaps off the screen with its wit and intelligent story.

                    If you have any prejudices about what sort of films you normally watch then La Haine makes a damn fine case for abandoning them. A good film is a good film and this is a very good film.

                    French or otherwise.


                    Additional
                    Every country to which this film was exported retained the French title meaning 'hate' coming from a sage quote of Hubert's about hate inspring hate. Every country that is, except America which changed the title to simply 'hate.' That says a lot.

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                      20.11.2008 17:43
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                      Paris ain't all croissants and cafes !

                      Boy....Paris ain't all it's cracked up to be! Not if this film shows anything of the truth which I strongly suspect it does. Filmed in black and white documentary style director Mathieu Kassovitz captures the seething tensions of the rioting we have experienced several times around Paris on the news in recent years.

                      Three characters, the young and excitable Sayid, the hot-headed Jew Vinz and the level-headed but cynical black boxer Hubert, are followed during 24 hours of riots in Paris. A young man Abdel has been beaten so badly whilst in police custody that his life hangs by a thread.

                      Feelings of pure hatred now exist between the poor inhabitants of the Parisian projects and the tough and racist police. Following the previous nights riots an officer has lost his handgun. Vinz finds it and now feels empowered - he boasts that should Abdel die he will in turn shoot a policeman.

                      What follows is 24 hours in the lives of the three who have very little to lose.

                      Hubert tries to keep things in check using his superior intellect and muscle - he realises that fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, hatred leads to suffering...sorry, I've gone all Yoda on your asses. Ultimately the gang are bonded by their misfortune in being involved in the whole scenario. None of them asked for it and all try to take any opportunity to lighten the burden of their lives. They smoke dope, gatecrash parties, steal cars..all to relieve their boredom. What can they lose?

                      The final scene provides a great and shocking end to what is a hard hitting and fast paced film.

                      Even if you weren't interested in the violent plot I'd wager that lovers of cinematography would enjoy what is a fantastic looking movie. Each frame cries out to be framed and hung on a wall.

                      Highly recommended. 8/10.

                      Review by Mark Woods, LordBeanpod@GMail.com, 2008.

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                        04.07.2007 22:42
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                        A shocking and memorable look at the Parisian ghettos

                        The French riots in November 2005 shocked the world, and brought the condition of the “banlieues”, or ghetto-like suburbs which exist in many of the country’s largest cities, to the top of France’s agenda. Whilst the violence was pretty shocking, the most shocking point is that these problems are nothing new, and that the government has just turned a blind eye for years. Ten years ago, a young director called Mathieu Kassovitz made “La Haine”, meaning Hate – a film which tackled the banlieue crisis head on. I don’t really know if it was successful back then, as it was a bit before my prime, but in 2004 it came right back into the public eye when its bleak depiction of the problem came eerily true.

                        La Haine tells the story of three friends, all aged about 17 – one white Jewish guy, Vinz (Vincent Cassel); one Arab, Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui); and one black African, Hubert (Hubert Koundé).

                        The film starts with archive footage of riots in Paris, and once the film begins, we learn that one of their friends, Abdel, has been seriously injured and hospitalised after being attacked by a policeman.

                        They react in different ways – Hubert is training to become a boxer so that he can escape the poverty, and he believes that violence is not the answer. Saïd is a bit of a sheep – he just follows Hubert. However, Vinz dreams of doing a Travis Bickle, and his idea of a solution is to shoot a policeman in retaliation.

                        Over the course of one day, we witness what the three friends get up to in an estate where a lack of school and anything constructive to do leads to inevitable boredom, and we see how the incident and its aftermath causes cracks to appear in their friendship.

                        Tackling the issues of class, gun crime, and most of all tensions between the predominantly white police force and the immigrant population in the suburbs, La Haine is a raw, explosive film. Whilst the director’s anger at the situation is obvious, he doesn’t let the film turn into a simple good kids vs evil police story. Both sides are portrayed as brash and provocative, and Vinz in particular is deluded, violent and at times a total idiot.

                        At the start, I’d thought that the characters would seem distant and unsympathetic to me, but the director creates just the right amount of sympathy for their plight. Some of their treatment by the police is at times difficult to watch, and by the end you really do care about them, because they’re believable characters.

                        For a film tackling such serious themes, there’s also a surprising amount of humour in La Haine. The three constantly bicker and argue amongst each other, Vinz keeps petulantly (and humorously) answering back, and it’s all pretty natural - you get the feeling that these are just average kids hanging out and mucking around, albeit with a serious situation raging around them.

                        It’s also a really intelligent film, with lots of symbolism and metaphors and whatnot. The scene with the cow can be read on quite a few levels, and there’s a moment where this man tells them a story in the toilets which at surface level is quite funny, but if you think about it’s an interesting parable of their situation.

                        The quotation that I’ll always remember from this film is the story about the guy falling from the block of flats, saying “so far, so good” as he passes each floor, and the idea that it’s not about how you fall, it’s all about the landing. I just think that is such a powerful way of expressing the situation, especially when it’s used in conjunction with the unforgettable climax.

                        On a different level, it’s a really well-made film considering its tight budget. Shot in black and white to create some kind of nightmarish feel, it uses all sorts of techniques, from unusual camera angles and speeded up sections, to bird-like long aerial shots and a clock that appears at intervals to let us see the passing of time (used particularly well in the final scene).

                        It’s also really powerfully acted, especially from Vincent Cassel, who manages to switch between lovable rogue and scary, violent thug. The other two actors were pretty unknown (although Saïd has since appeared in Sleeper Cell and is starring in the upcoming film of The Kite Runner, and Hubert featured in The Constant Gardener) which added to the realism – either way, they all fitted their roles absolutely perfectly. Mathieu Kassovitz (from Amélie and Birthday Girl, by the way) even pops up himself as a skinhead.

                        If I had to criticise La Haine, I could say that the characters were quite stereotypical – the white guy, the Arab, the black guy – but this was intentional since it reflected the three major ethnic groups in France, and so it worked as a kind of parable for whole communities in general. Also, it’s pretty violent and there’s a lot of strong language, so I wouldn’t recommend it for kids, although it’s only a 15. Most kids wouldn’t appreciate it anyway; it’s a thinking film, not an action film.

                        Overall, La Haine is a brilliant, must-see film. I wouldn’t say I’m an expert, but obviously if you were shocked by the French riots or if you’re interested in French society at all, it makes more sense and it’s a more meaningful film if you understand its context. If not, it’s still definitely worth watching if you want a thought-provoking, powerful and unforgettable film.
                        ______________________________________________________

                        You can buy La Haine (Hate) for £6.95 from www.dvd.co.uk or £13.98 for the ultimate edition, comprising of 2 discs, the soundtrack, and a steel case (from www.amazon.co.uk). I’m reviewing the film only, not the DVD. Just if you hadn’t realised, it’s in French with English subtitles.

                        Directed by: Mathieu Kassovitz

                        Starring:

                        Vincent Cassel … Vinz
                        Saïd Taghmaoui … Saïd
                        Hubert Koundé … Hubert

                        Running time: 96 minutes

                        Classification: 15 (strong language and violence)

                        Year: 1995

                        My rating: 5 stars

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                          21.03.2007 17:13
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                          baise la police!

                          Bit of a change to my last review, this time, we are embarking on a much grittier topic…

                          As some of you may have gathered from my title & the name of this film, this is a French film and is subtitled, but I will touch a bit more on this later, normally I do not focus on the fact that a film is subtitled and this does not make me choose to not watch a film, but I think this really is a point worth mentioning, so keep your eyes peeled further down.

                          This film holds a really important place in French film-making history, it is of a very different style to the other films that were being produced at the time, tackles an extremely controversial subject - police brutality & life in les banlieues, and has even gone so far as to impact other countries, so much so that it was added to the A-Level Syllabus for Film Studies, back here in Blighty.

                          The film was released in 1995, and was a huge success in France, so much so that the (then) Prime Minster, Alain Juppé requested a private screening, he then instructed, actually it was more of an order than an instruction, his entire cabinet to watch it. The director went on to win Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival Awards in 1996, but apparently the police guards present turned their backs on those involved with the film, as a protest to the way that they had portrayed police brutality in France.

                          Note, there are a couple of words in the plot that may need clarification or defining, as this is quite a colloquial (is that the right word? Please correct me if not) film, so certain words will be translated and explained in full after the Plot.

                          ~Plot~

                          La Haine follows a day in the life of three banlieusards*, Vinz (Jew), Saïd (Beur**) & Hubert (African). They are your typical banlieusards, drop outs, small time dealers & the rest of the trappings that come with this sort of lifestyle. There have been riots on their estate and one of their friends is in a coma in hospital, after being beaten, whilst in police custody. Vinz finds une flingue (police revolver) & swears that if their friend dies, he will kill a policeman. The film then concentrates on the boys dealing with the aftermath of the riot & the fact that their friend is dying in hospital.

                          I know this is really short for a plot summary, but I really do not want to give anything away, and the whole film pivots around the fact that their friend is lying in hospital in a coma, and obviously, what action will Vinz take if his friend dies, will he really kill a policeman to avenge his friends death?

                          Please do not be put of by this short summary, because a lot does go on in 96mins, and the film does address a lot of issues that were (and still are) quite prominent in France.

                          ~Casting, my thoughts & other stuff~

                          Vinz - played brilliantly by Vincent Cassel (Shrek & Guest House Paradiso), Vinz's character is so filled with rage, which more than likely comes from being trapped in les banlieues, he is desperately wanting to gain respect, even if it means killing a policeman, but I suppose in his situation, respect is the only thing that he can aspire to.

                          Hubert - played by Hubert Koundé (The Constant Gardner), Hubert is a boxer, a quiet, contemplative character, trying to make sense of what is going on around him.

                          Saïd - played by Saïd Taghmaoui (appeared in 3 episodes of Sleeper Cell & a couple of episodes of The West Wing), I guess Saïd's character is the one who holds the group together, he is always expressing an opinion, I guess the neutral one, as on one hand you have a young, angry, testosterone filled male, in the form of Vinz & a quiet, thoughtful character, in the form of Hubert, not really an ideal match is it? Saïd is trying to work out some happy medium between the two wildly differing opinions of his friends.

                          The film has been directed brilliantly, it is shot in black & white, and what feels like, one camera, and some sort of really cheap film. The reason that this film has been a talking point for so long, and did so well in France is because it gives the public a film about something that they can relate to, something to grab hold of & run with - Les Banlieues were a place to pin all of France's social problems on - unemployment, crime, drugs, racial tension etc etc. Les Banlieues took up pages in French magazines & papers, they were the subject of many political debates, and yet the vast majority of French cinema, of the time, were avoiding these issues, this is not to say that this is the only reason that the film has been so successful.

                          The writing, direction & of course acting, has a great deal to do with the success of this film, the atmosphere, tension & anger has been captured & portrayed really well, this has probably got something to do with the actors all being unknown, so in a way, they had nothing to be scared of when making this film, they just made it, they did not have to worry about loosing careers because they made/appeared in a controversial film.

                          I would not say that I enjoyed this film, it made me feel uncomfortable, and it was quite hard to follow, as I mentioned earlier this film is subtitled, but it is quite difficult to read white subtitles when the film is shot in black and white, there were a few points that I missed, I speak pretty good French, but as a lot of the dialogue is colloquial & quite often slang it was really hard to keep up with. Do not let this put you off watching this film, as it is based on truth and people need to be aware of what was happening. I would highly encourage any A-Level students studying French to watch this film, as it gives a good insight into culture that will not get taught at school. I actually watched this at school, but we had pretty liberal teachers who wanted us to really understand what we were learning.

                          This film has a 15 rating, and to be honest, I don't think that many 15 year olds would choose to watch this film, firstly because it is not really something that I don't think, would appeal to the younger generation, as the film is dealing with quite political matters & secondly, the subtitling makes it very difficult to watch - ordinarily, I would not make a big deal about subtitling, but I think in this case it is worth pointing out.

                          In summary, do watch this film, it is about one of those issues that we should be aware of, but for some reason, there is always some "bigger" issue to deal with and things like this just don't get talked about. Also, there are other films out there that do manage to connect with the public at any given point in time, they manage to identify with the thoughts, mentality or fears, if I had to compare this film to another film, I would liken it to A Clockwork Orange, only because at the time of Clockwork's release, the public were fearful of gangs, therefore, tapping into grabbing their attention by giving them a film about what they were most scared of.

                          For any of you who don't/can't be arsed to read on, you may stop here - thanks for reading x

                          ~A small lesson in the French spoken language & cultural learings of glorious nation France~

                          So let's start with the title of the film - La Haine, French for Hate (a pretty strong word don't you think?), oh and the title of my review "Baise La Police", this phrase was being scribbled on the back of a police van in one of the early scenes of the film and translates to er….hmmm……<INSERT PROFANITY HERE> the police (you get the general idea).

                          *Banlieusards - those living in Les Banlieues, which translates in English to suburbs, the only problem is that suburbs tend to conjure up images of middle-class families, two cars in the drive, leafy, tree lined streets, not really a good translation. The only way I can describe Les Banlieues would be to compare them to such monstrosities as Kidbrooke (near Greenwich, & soon to be demolished), they are massive areas of tower blocks, outside the cities, purposely built to house the poor, our equivalent of a council estate that is the size of a small town (or medium town depending on your view of a small town!).

                          **Beur - the phrase first appeared in the 80's, a way of expressing those who feel that they are equally Arab (mainly of Algerian, Tunisian & Moroccan) & equally French, their parents being of Arabian origin, but they themselves having been born in France. The phrase can also be turned in a negative fashion too - neither Arab nor French. The term Beur also refers to class (all things ultimately do unfortunately), normally used to describe banlieusards of this parentage, however a new term has been derived from Beur - Beurgeoisie, to describe those of Arabian parentage, but doing better for themselves (of course you would not refer to a "successful" drug dealer or pimp!).

                          The film, as I said, grabbed the attention of a nation, that had been debating the two main topics of the film, firstly Les Banlieues, the apparent depravity of les banlieusards, the violent riots, between les banlieusards & the police in the 90's & secondly, and I think most importantly, it was tackling the issue of brutality and racism that seemed to be rife in the French police force. The story itself is "based" around the death, in 1993 of 16 year old Makomé Bowole whilst in police custody. He was shot at point-blank in his temple (supported by forensic evidence), whilst handcuffed to a radiator. At the court hearing the officer was sentenced to 8 years & charged with battery, leading to Makomé's unintentional death. The prosecutor's officer had earlier ordered his release, as he was a minor, but according to police officers, his guardians could not be found. Sadly the story received very little media coverage.

                          Right I think that's enough for now, I have a cramp in my little finger from typing, hope that this was of use, or that you might have learnt something new today :)

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                            18.11.2005 00:43
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                            Clever, original and well acted French film.

                            Now before I start my review I'm going to pose a question to everyone. Have any of you ever watched a French film? This excludes ones you may have been forced to watch at school and the Emmanuelle series. If the answer to this is no, then allow me to enlighten you, if I may, with a knowing observation - Many French films are actually very good!

                            Sometimes I think that as a British nation we can be quite xenophobic. We go to other areas of Europe, don't bother to learn any of the country's language (speaking loudly and pointing normally works)as after all, EVERYBODY speaks and must learn English (god we're lucky)and we are on holiday so why make the effort to trudge through a boring book of vocabulary. Rant over. I think that our general attitude to other areas of Europe, especially France, is that they eat frogs legs, don't wash much and smoke more than a bloody bonfire. All of these points are true in their own right (I lived in Paris for 7 months)but I feel that this attitude and our Anglocentric way of life means that the market for other European films is limited.

                            These films are usually in the World cinema section which is normally near the back of the store near the adult film section - 3dvds for 20 quid deals take up the rest of the floor space.

                            I know I haven't begun the review of La Haine (Hate) yet, but I will now - I just wanted to set some sort of context. I decided to review it as I thought it would be relavent given the recent rioting in Paris and its surroundings.

                            La Haine is set in and on the outskirts of Paris. It follows three main characters, Vinz, Said and Hubert, who are trying to escape their dismal, violent and depressing banlieue (suburb). It follows them and their actions after recent riots and massive rebellion the day before in which one of their friends becomes injured and is sent to hospital.

                            In all the confusion one of the riot police loses his weapon and Vinz happens to find it. He says he wants to kill a policeman if there friend Abdel dies in hospital - a policeman accidentally shot him in the riots.

                            What follows is a gritty and clever narrative that explores the alienation of the banlieue and its depressing outlook. The film itself was made in 1994 but is shot in monochrome (black and white) and gives the film a very grainy and harsh depiction. It really is a very interesting film to watch and serves as a voice for a great deal of disenfranchised individuals living in the suburbs of Paris. The film received 6 awards and 11 nominations. Best director and best European film were 2 that it won.

                            It explores the futility of existance and the theory that hate breeds hate. A constant circle of violence and disorder towards the police and visa versa.

                            It isn't all grim as there are definite elements of humour in the film. An instance where they ask if a cab driver will accept a credit card, fail to pick up some girls in Paris and fail to hotwire a car properly are just some of them.

                            The music in the film is very French and is also very good. It is a hip hop based soundtrack and was a best-seller when the film was released.

                            There are subtitles with the VHS version and they are not hard to follow unless you haven't seen a film with subtitles before - may be distracting.

                            If I was going to recommend one French film to see it would be this one. It has action, humour, great characters, style and is very watchable. Maybe this film will convert you to looking at other French films or foreign films in general. There are so many hidden gems that really epitomise great filmmaking as opposed to another uninspired sequel that Hollywood seems obsessed with doing. My advice, watch this version first before Hollywood gets its grubby little mits on it and remakes it badly. Jusqu'ici tout va bien (So far, so good).

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                          • Product Details

                            Shot in black and white cinema verite style, this film follows a day in the life of three aimless, violence-prone, ethnically-diverse young men who hail from the same decaying housing project in Paris. Vinz, who is Jewish, is the angriest and the least intelligent of the three. North African Said is calmer, but is the most despairing about his future. Hubert is Black, and the most mature, channeling his rage through boxing. Although the trio seethes with fury over the arrest and senseless beating of an Arab friend, each manages to keep the other in check. But that changes after Vinz finds a loaded gun and the trio becomes entangled with the police, and later a group of skinheads. Mathieu Kassovitz won the Best Director prize for LA HAINE at the Cannes Film Festival.