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August 7, 2010

2

La haine

by Franz Patrick


Haine, La (1995)
★★★ / ★★★★

“La haine” stars Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui as a Jew, an African and an Arab, respectively, who come from the nonglamorous side of Parisian neighborhood. The premise of the film was essentially following the three characters in a span of a day–after a riot in which one of their friends was sent to the hospital–so we could see how they juggled the internal and external violence that faced them. I was impressed with this film because it dealt with the characters in painfully realistic ways without being too heavy-handed or a stereotypical “being in one’s shoes for a day” story. The three friends were so angry to the point where they couldn’t help but stir trouble wherever they ended up. Their personalities were explosive and unpredictable but just when we thought we had them all figured out, the material surprised us. It then begged the question of whether they could rise above the place where they came from; I could see that they wanted to change and that they were tired of having to be (or trying to be) tough all the time. It was the subtle scenes in which the characters expressed their concerns and sadness about where their lives were heading that gripped me until the very intense and memorable final scene. Even though there were a lot of meaningless fights and funny scenes at someone’s expense, I enjoyed the quiet moments when they would just sit on the train and not talk to each other or when they would just visit an empty shopping mall in the middle of the night. As alienated as they were, their frustrations didn’t hinder them from trying to live even if the paths they’ve chosen were roads that we necessarily would not want for them to take. Written and directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, he really had a knack for playing with the camera and delivering unique shots when something crucial was unfolding before our (and the characters’) eyes. He wasn’t afraid to take some risks and they paid off handsomely; the decision to shoot the film in simple black and white complemented the complex social problems (that we sometimes see in black and white) that the picture tackled head-on. Ultimately a movie about acceptance and corruption, “La haine,” also known as “Hate,” showed that a material does not need to be obvious or touching for it to teach a lesson about urban life. In some ways, the tone and focus somewhat reminded me of the unforgettable “Trainspotting,” only “La haine” was far less manic and more serious in its approach.

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aug 7 2010

    I watched “La Haine” for my French class last semester. It was a powerful film, showing the “ugly” side of Paris. We focused on issues of politics/government corruption/police justice and the moral stance the characters had to decide to take. Just because others hate on us, is it justified that we hate on them? I loved the characters’ development (especially Vincent and Hubert). They challenged the idea of do we take the power struggle of justice and hate into our own hands. The lines in the beginning and end of the movie are unforgettable: “So far so good… so far so good… so far so good. How you fall doesn’t matter. It’s how you land.”

    Reply
    • Aug 8 2010

      I wish we saw this in French class back in high school. But then again we saw some really good ones comme “L’argent de poche” et “Amelie.” This is the kind of movie where it would have been nice to have a set of questions ready to be answered in front of me instead of me keeping track of topics I wanted to mention in the review. I’ll probably buy it on DVD.

      Reply

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