La Haine (1995) Review

Verdict: Intense

An intense atmosphere and story with good acting.


Said (Said Taghmaoui), Vinz (Vincent Cassel) and Hubert (Hubert Kounde) are three multiracial friends living in the banlieue of France. After the aftermath of a riot, their friend Abdel (Abdel Ahmed Ghili) ends up in the hospital in a critical condition, and Vinz threatens to kill a cop if Abdel does not make it. The trio go for a day trip in Paris to visit Asterix (Francois Levantal) who owes Said money, and there, they encounter some troubling groups that show how out of depth they are in Paris. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz.

I find it interesting that the film uses the names of most the actors as their character names. Perhaps by doing so, it adds more of an authentic feel to the film. The trio (Vincent, Hubert and Said) have good chemistry on screen, and what really ties them together is Said, as Vincent and Hubert are constantly butting heads; one the angel and the other the devil. Said plays the cheerful innocent young boy without much of a care and does not take sides with either, trying to maintain the peace. Vincent’s expressions are really intense  and though he does talk of violent acts, he does not engage in many. Hubert thinks of the bigger picture and with his calm demeanour is the image of morality in the film. The trio can be seen as gangsters by the way they walk and talk and the influence of American hood films is apparent here.

This film is in black and white and that makes the atmosphere constant throughout. It has this bleak tone to it, and can even be seen as Expressionistic for both its visual style and narrative. The film expresses social issues in France at the time, and this film greatly portrays that. Set in a time when the citizens were conditioned to fear and despise the police, Kassovitz impressively shows both police brutality and sympathy.

The cinematography is noticeably appreciable as well. There is this one scene, where I had to rewind to appreciate it some more. This is when Vinz is in the bathroom acting all macho, and testing out his toughness in front of the mirror. We are led to believe that we see him through the mirror, but then the camera should be in the reflection too, and it is not. That is truly ingenious.

Though the film did keep me quite engaged, I just felt that it was a bit heavy for me, and that it wasn’t leading anywhere. Then the ending came and it was just so unexpected that it left me feeling empty. Not sure how I feel about that.

To sum-up:
PROS: Atmosphere, directing, acting, cinematography
CONS: Felt it was going nowhere

I give this a 7/10.

Have you seen La Haine? Rate it out of 5 stars above or leave a comment below!


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