La Haine – which explosively highlighted the vicious cycle of hatred and violence, through a narrative that began and ended on a doomed note – lighted the fuse on a combustible subject in the French mainstream, by defiantly and provocatively displaying racial discrimination, ghettoization and atrocities by those in power against underprivileged immigrants and minority, thus further exacerbating their alienation. Unsurprisingly, its political and cinematic impacts were immediate and spectacular; it attained a cult status, sparking both adulation and controversy; it heralded the sub-genre of “Banlieue Cinema”, influencing a string of films, including Ladj Ly’s electrifying Les Misérables which was arguably its closest protégé; and it continues to be remarkably prescient in the way that it was brazenly reflective of real situations and predicated devastating flare-ups in Paris. The film chronicled, over a 24 hour period, the lives of three young friends and residents of a grungy, impoverished banlieue commune on the Parisian outskirts – Vinz (Vincent Cassel), an aggressive Jewish guy and loose wire; Hubert (Hubert Koundé), a weary black guy, boxing enthusiast and low-level dealer; and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui), a self-effacing and mischievous Muslim guy of Arabic descent – with the trio ironically depicted as “black-blanc-beur”. Set in the aftermaths of a deadly riot triggered by police brutality, we experience their outrage, weariness, hostility and disdain for cops, the middle classes, and neo-Nazi skinheads, as they venture into the city, face nasty racial attacks, amble along the streets, impudently crash into an elite party, chat, argue, fight and frolic, and inevitably walk towards a bleak climax. Kassovitz filled the movie – brilliantly shot in brooding B/W – with grit, poetic realism, underground hiphop culture, verlan vocabulary and striking interplay between the three actors.
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Genre: Drama/Urban Drama/Crime Drama/Buddy Film