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"Hate breeds hate"
La Haine (HD DVD)
Member Name: mmintfresh
La Haine (HD DVD)
Date: 12/06/03, updated on 12/06/03 (1582 review reads)
Advantages: Thoguht Provoking story, Excellent Direction, Performances
Disadvantages: Not many people have seen it
Kassovitz’s La Haine follows roughly a day in the lives of three young men Vinz (Vincent Cassell), Said (Saïd Taghmaoui) and Hubert (Hubert Koundé). They all live in a depressing housing estate consisting of sterile tower blocks just outside of Paris. Tensions run high because the estate is basically a dumping ground for people on the bottom rung of the social ladder. The estates contain a wide range of ethnicities, Vinz is Jewish, Said is Arab and Hubert has African roots and they reflect the population of their home. The tension in these estates are not created, however because of the wide range of cultures present it is with the police and the upper class French society that dominate almost every other French film.
The film opens with a collage of films made up of riots from about the 70’s to the riot that happens at the beginning of the film. We don’t see, however your typical riot with innocent police officers confronted with a crowd of yobs aching for a fight, the roles are reversed. The very first line in the film is “It‘s easy for you to shoot us, we‘ve only got rocks” and this sets the tome for the film. The police don’t respect the people in the estate. The story itself starts with the story of a young Asian man (Abdel) who was beaten whilst in police custody and in a critical condition. He was a friend of Vinz, Hubert and Said. Vinz wants revenge for this and tells Hubert and Said that Abdel dies he will kill a cop with a cop’s gun he found in a riot. Hubert and Said become worried for their friend Vinz who seems to be becoming increasingly more violent and unhinged (he brags about beating a police officer in a riot) and the fact that he has a gun makes him like a ticking time bomb.
La Haine is a film that I heard bits about but didn’t really feel compelled to watch. One day I managed to see it and was impressed by the film but forgot about it. I then got a chance to see it at the cine
ma and after this second viewing realised that La Haine is much more than the American Hood films that it is often, unfairly compared to, but a thought-provoking, insightful and intelligent film.
The direction of the film is very interesting, long takes, interesting shots and some brilliant editing and makes the film extremely stylish. In some films, this can be a drawback because this can either overshadow a story or be put it to make a b-grade film seem better. La Haine, fortunately doesn’t fall in to this category. Kassovitz’s (probably more well known for his role as the lead in Amelie) compliments the story with his interesting decisions. One very interesting technique, which adds a lot to the tension of the film, is his decision to insert title cards, which indicate the time of day paired with the sound of a ticking clock. This creates the illusion that the film is a time bomb and leaves the audience unsettled and on the edge of their seat as it builds to it’s brilliant climax that will leave anyone who watches it gob smacked (I will not give it away). His direction also helps the audience to get a good sense of the dismal environment that the three protagonists inhabit. He also manages to inject some comedy and lighter moments into the film for example when Vinz gives Said and haircut and completely messes it up
The plot itself doesn’t have a great deal of things happen in it of any real significance but that is the whole point. Kassovitz hasn’t chosen to make an escapist film but one based on reality (the ending was inspired by a real event and the film shot in one of the real estates) and that reality shows how boring and hopeless a situation the people who are living there are in. The three characters themselves are all likable and draw a lot of sympathy from the viewers however they are all flawed and this makes them a lot more real. With the other characters Kassovitz also avoids stereotypes.
The acting in t
he film is also top standard and adds to the semi documentary feel of the film. Cassel, the most successful of the three most recently seen in Noe’s brilliant Irreversible makes Vinz both likable and dangerous but doesn’t go over the top. Taghmaoui puts a bit of comedy into the film as Said but also can be serious and quite tragic. Koundé is Hubert the most mature of the three and makes him a likable character as well forced into a life he desperately wants to escape.
La Haine is a film I would highly recommend because it is a great and engaging film with a serious message about the state of France today. The only downside to the film is that not many people will watch it because it is French, also the subtitles (in the Tartan release) have been Americanised so the character of Asterix has been changed to Snoopy and things like that. La Haine is also dismissed as a Boyz in the Hood type film which is also an unfair comparison. All I can say is see it now.