Monday, October 3, 2011

La Haine (1995)

La Haine (1995)
La Haine (1995)

Genre: Drama
Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Starring:  Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé, Saïd Taghmaoui
Language: French
Duration: 98 min.
Rating: 9.1  

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.

La Haine (1995)

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.

La Haine (1995)

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

La Haine (1995)

La Haine (1995)

La Haine (1995)

La Haine (1995)

La Haine (1995)

La Haine (1995)

La Haine (1995)

La Haine (1995)


Chip Lary said...

This is a great movie.  I actually only saw it a few years ago, even though it's been around for a couple decades.  It was a little strange to see Cassell as a young punk.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yes I should have mentioned that, Amelie is where most audiences will recognize him from.  He has a cameo in front of the camera as a skinhead in this as well.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Thanks man.  Sadly there really aren't many good roles available for black actors in France. 

Welcome back!

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Yeah he sure got everyone's attention after this role.

Hermann Rorschach said...

Is this violence week on Bonjour Tristesse?  :D

"This is a rare must see film regardless of where your usual cinematic tastes happen to lie."I trust you...

The Angry Lurker said...

A great movie, Cassell was brilliant.

Andrew Buckle said...

Oh, what a great film. I first saw this at University, and it was the best film I saw in that specific course. I have seen it a few times again; and it holds up well. A gritty, hard-hitting tale set in a city that was actually divided by riots at the time of filming. Kassovitz (the love interest in Amelie) directs brilliantly and the performances are great! 

moviesandsongs365 said...

I tried watching La Haine couple years ago based on the praise, I didn't like the characters, I usually don't go for gangster films, so maybe its just me. Everyone else seems to love the film.

FrontRoomCinema said...

I love this film. A great piece of cinema, told so well. It is a shame that Hubert hasn't seen the same amount of success as the other two main actors.

Great job BT!!

Christine said...

It really does still stand up today.  This is the film that made me fall in love with Vincent Cassel (as an actor, that is). 

CastorTroy said...

You are on a French movie binge! I need to rewatch this, I never gave it a proper chance, basically turning it off halfway through. Vincent Cassel is awesome! said...

Wow does Vincent Cassel look young in this movie. Je l'aime.

derek rampersad said...

looks interesting, ill give it a look

wilde.dash said...

I'm going to go ahead and call this one the best film i was ever introduced to via a French class.  So good.

Hoi-Ming Ng said...

Ho ho a breakdancing scene eh? I'll keep an eye out for that.

My 2 Pesos said...

I've watched this a lot of times!

d_4 said...

The plot doesn't really persuade me, but everything else does. I'm sure I'll enjoy it more than I first expected.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

Jack L posted a list of his favorite Cassel performances a few months back that is a great place to start.


Bonjour Tristesse said...

I suppose you could call it that. 

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I also didn't see it until a few years ago.  You know I still sometimes think of the mid 90's as being just a few years past.  Almost shocking to realize that 1995 was actually 17 years ago now.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

I really should have taken more French classes back in school.

Bonjour Tristesse said...

It's a really cool scene.  I think you'll enjoy it.

Mette said...

Ever since I saw Black Swan, I've been fascinated by Vincent Cassel, and I'm longing to watch more of his films. You gave this one a very high rating, and I've heard about it before, so I'll make sure to watch it.

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