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Injured by a police inspector during an interrogatory, Abdel is at hospital, almost dead. In the suburbs where he lives, some riots happened during the night, and one policeman lost his gun. One of Abdel's friend, Vinz, finds it. Vinz and his two pals, Said and Hubert, have nothing to do, they try to kill time. Vinz swears that if Abdel dies, he will shoot a policeman...
It's easy to see why La Haine had such an explosive effect when it was released in France; its potent portrait of racial discord and life in the housing projects outside of Paris is at odds with France's egalitarian vision of itself. This impact wouldn't have lasted, however, were the movie purely a political statement; fortunately, it's a riveting journey that follows three unemployed young men (Said Taghmaoui, Hubert Kounde, and Vincent Cassel) as they wander and try to decide what to do with the gun that one of them has found. This simple scenario results in a remarkably complex examination of race, class, violence, and the abuse of power in modern society, yet never feels preachy or forced. Hugely influenced by American directors like Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee (particularly Do the Right Thing), La Haine riffs through different styles and techniques, yet the movie feels organic and whole, driven by a genuinely passionate point of view. Dynamic, reckless, sometimes obvious and sometimes subtle (and sometimes both; in one scene, Hubert and Said have been picked up by the police, who torture them for kicks. But watching the abuse is a rookie cop whose face quietly ripples with dismay, helplessness, and resignation), this is a must-see.
As is usual with Criterion releases, the extra features are excellent, including an in-depth but accessible documentary about the housing projects and riots that inspired the film, retrospective material on the making of the movie, behind-the-scenes horseplay, intriguing deleted scenes (with brief but revealing explanations about the deletion from director Mathieu Kassovitz), and a wonderfully articulate introduction by Jodie Foster, who championed the film upon its release and distributed it through her production company. The audio commentary by Kassovitz, who's fluent in English, is circumspect and thoughtful, with flashes of sardonic humor. Kassovitz's directing career has turned decidedly less political (his more recent movies include The Crimson Rivers and Gothika), but his perspective on La Haine and its inspirations remains sharp and lucid. --Bret Fetzer
A very well made movie, but not one I would have chosen to watch. It is dark and ominous, but also required for one of my college classes. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Holly Polak
Very slick and thought-provoking; the issues presented are relevant to youth everywhere, even todayPublished 2 months ago by Parth Thakker
I enjoyed the movie and felt it captured the flavor of Paris pretty well. But the scenes could have been more true-to-life. Read morePublished 3 months ago by artgolfer
Great example of how racism is a global phenomenon. Great for students.Published 4 months ago by david m. jordon
best french movie from the 90's, really an enjoyable and thought-provoking film. Kassovitz's best work.Published 6 months ago by Garrett
A day in the life of x,y, & z. Sadly this is a tale that is as old as time and is a shared experience of many people of today and many future generations to come. Read morePublished 8 months ago by TempleoftheDogg
I was required to watch this film for two classes at UC Berkeley. I have since loved it, mostly for the symbolism, humor and thought provocation. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Sienna S.