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May 26, 2006 | Movie Review: La Haine

Movie Review for La Haine (The Hate) 1995.
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Length: 96 min
Rated: R (for violence)

Though the movie’s cast does not include any famous Hollywood actors or the like, it sends out a powerful message through the three main characters, one that can’t really be well explained. It follows the events of a single day among Saïd, Vinz and Hubert (the actors are essentially themselves), three teenagers living in the outskirts of a French city amid the riots that have taken place after an Arab youth is severely wounded by police. The relatively calm beginnings of the film spiral out of control when Vinz reveals to his friends that he’s found the gun that a cop had lost in the chaos, and, just when everything seems to have gotten under control, the film ends with a dramatic and largely unsatisfying end.

The film is remarkable in a number of ways: the director was 28 when this 90-minute long film was created, and he won the award for Best Director at Cannes as a result, which reveals how much of an impact it made on those who saw it. Unfortunately I have a feeling that those who should’ve seen the movie haven’t, and those who were negatively represented, like the police, have apparently acted as though the movie never existed. The movie also obtained a César (the French equivalent of an Oscar) for Best Film, Best Editing, and Best Producer.

I have quite a few mixed feelings about La Haine, though. The film is widely known as one that tries to reveal the many things that go wrong between the police in France (the gendarmerie, as they are known, and the particularly barbarious CRS, the riot police) and those they pursue. A particularly cruel scene in the film depicts Saïd and Hubert being essentially tortured by a policeman who calmly explains every move he does to another man, presumably a police recruit. The movie also focuses heavily on the issue of racism, but I don’t think that, much as it is a vital element of the plot, is not the most important issue. (You do notice, however, that the choice is cleverly made: Saïd is of Arab origin, Vinz is Jewish and Hubert is of African origin). Though I don’t want to be the patron of the blantantly obvious, hatred and cruelty are the driving force behind much of the violence that takes place- hatred that is so strong it can be seen in the eyes of the characters; hatred that is so powerful it takes the breath out of you; hatred that engulfs everyone except those whom you think would be the most prone to succumb to it.

“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 entry was posted on Friday, May 26th, 2006 at 3:52 pm, EST under the category of Movie Reviews. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.