Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui
Duration: 98 min.
Twenty-four hours in the lives of young, disenfranchised Saïd, Vinz, and Hubert, who live in a suburban housing project on the outskirts of Paris.
La Haine (Hate) is a film written and directed by French actor and filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz. It premiered in competition at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival winning Kassovitz the Best Director Award.
Kassovitz focuses on a day in the lives of three disaffected young men from the projects in the suburbs of Paris starting the morning after a riot. Vinz (Vincent Cassel) a wannabe gangster filled with rage who feels even tougher when he finds a police revolver, Hubert (Hubert Kounde) a quiet and pensive boxer who longs for a way out of his situation, and Said (Saïd Taghmaoui) a motormouth who just wants to chase after girls and hang out with his two best friends.
The acting is pitch perfect from all three leads. Vincent Cassel in a breakout role as the hate filled Vinz, is so natural and explosive, and his Travis Bickle impersonation is spot on. Hubert Kounde is wonderful as the one who shows the most common sense even after losing his boxing gym in the riots, and repeatedly tries in vain to calm down the hot headed Vinz. Saïd Taghmaoui plays the funny and cheerful friend essentially still just a kid who lives in the moment.
Like Man Bites Dog, this was shot in black and white and the characters share the same names as the actors, adding a layer of realism to the film. The similarities end there though, as La Haine resembles more of a gripping cross somewhere between Mean Streets and Breathless; showing the gritty street attitude of the former with the stylish cinematic flourishes and freeform narrative of the latter.
The cinematography is a treat to watch, with some brilliant sequences that look better than should be possible for a low budget film. Namely an impressive close quarters aerial helicopter shot through the projects, and a remarkable Vertigo style dolly-zoom on a terrace in the center of Paris. There's also a lovely break-dancing scene using jump cuts to switch from one dancer to the next
This is a film that has a lot to say in every single detail of every scene. It's so well crafted that Kassovitz himself admitted he would probably never match it again. La Haine really is a powerful modern masterpiece that does everything it sets out to do perfectly. From the story that so accurately predicted the future and remains painfully relevant even today; the fine acting that brings the three characters to life; the stylish and capable cinematography that keeps the images fresh as well as realistic; to the youthful energetic direction that ties it all together. This is a rare must see film regardless of where your usual cinematic tastes happen to lie.
— Bonjour Tristesse