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La Haine (Hate) Reviews

Page 1 of 119
Bob S

Super Reviewer

April 12, 2007
Quite possibly Spike Lee's second best film - certainly his best in French.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

January 25, 2014
Focusing on a day in the life of three social outcasts of Paris and impressively well filmed in black and white with extremely elegant long takes, this powerful drama comes as a profoundly relevant commentary on the continuous cycle of hate that only generates more hate.
Jack Hawkins
Jack Hawkins

Super Reviewer

June 11, 2011
I didn't expect this; what a pretentious film. The DVD cover proudly states how 'powerful' it is, and how it was a 'wake up call'. I'm sorry, this film about urban chaos has been done better many times, Taxi Driver being the first example that springs to mind. It's all been said before, but it's upon watching films like 'La Haine' that you truly realise what Robert De Niro created in that performance, his descent into madness totally consumes the viewer.

'La Haine' on the other hand has three leading characters, who, like the film itself, are quite frankly boring. There's no real depth to them, they're annoying, they're just three angry, bitter scumbags who can't function properly in decent social circles(with the exception of Hubert for the most part, however he can be just as bad, as showcased in the art gallery scene). The characters, especially Vincent Cassel's 'Vinz', quickly become tiresome. I'm afraid I'm all too familiar with these types, those playing the victim of society, moaning that they have no opportunities when they know full well that they could make something of themselves if they tried, they're just scared. People like that thrive off making a nuisance of themselves. However, that slightly sociological rant brings me onto some praise; I commend how accurately the characters are represented, but 90 minutes of these characters simply doesn't make for good viewing. Very little happens in 'La Haine', it relies on dialogue, and that certainly doesn't help it, it's no 'Pulp Fiction' in that respect. The narrative, much like its characters, is aimless, not good film making.

The only thing I'll remember about La Haine is its abrupt ending, which just serves as chronic bathos in my opinion. If the team responsible for this were aiming to recreate the dreary trials and tribulations of a few members of the Parisian underclass, they achieved admirably.
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

September 19, 2011
Whenever French cinema comes up in conversation, it's very easy to be dismissive. Quite apart from their artistic legacy within the medium, Jean-Luc Godard and others within the nouvelle vague have created a stereotype of French cinema - namely as something slow, pompous, and with little bearing on reality. Even if these attributes are not remotely accurate, they persist to such an extent that we treat any exception to them with great surprise. And there is no greater exception than La Haine, a positively incendiary film which proves that there is more to French cinema than staring soulfully into middle distance.

La Haine is the debut feature from Mathieu Kassovitz, whose subsequent career has left a lot to be desired. While he has been pretty consistent in front of the camera, with supporting roles in Amelie and The Fifth Element, his directorial work has been at best erratic. After seeing this film, you would never have predicted that such a talented observer of human behaviour would end up helming something as deeply derivative as Gothika. But putting that aside, his debut is remarkable both in its socio-political analysis and as a very visceral piece of filmmaking.

Realist cinema has always had an ability to shock audiences, either by pushing the envelope of what can be shown on screen, or by tackling subjects which were deemed 'unsuitable' or 'inappropriate' but which form integral parts of our social fabric, for good or ill. When Saturday Night and Sunday Morning was first released in 1960, it was given an X certificate; when reclassified it in 2002, it got a PG. This was not because the film has become tame with the passage of time, or conversely because society has gone rapidly downhill. It is because the film was such a radical departure from the expectations of the public and in particular the censors; not knowing how to react, they made sure that relatively few people saw Karel Reisz' film the first time round.

There is a close comparison with Saturday Night and Sunday Morning in the structure of La Haine and in its depiction of the misery of urban life. Both films are set around the actions of a close-knit group of characters over a short period of time, in this case a single day. The world of La Haine is much more angular and masculine, with the characters having very little time for women socially, and the humour is quite a lot darker. But the films do share a central theme of characters being trapped in the underclass, and being deeply unsure of their place in society in spite of all their posturing.

Vinz, Said and Hubert go about their business with a conflicted sense of ambivalence about the world around them. On the one hand, they are desperate to get out of the banlieues by whatever means: Hubert wants to move away, while Vinz talks about killing policemen, as if being sent down for life is better than living there for another day. On the other hand, the close affinity between the characters, the confidence they exude, and the sheer number of contacts they have, give the impression of people being embedded within a culture or community, with a fear of outsiders which is as strong as the fear people have towards them.

La Haine has a very convincing verité style which embeds us in the world of the characters. The opening credits contain documentary footage of Paris rioting between 1986 and 1996; the film was made during the tail end of these riots, and is dedicated to all those who perished in them while it was being made. The dramatic sections are shot in the same hue of black-and-white as the opening footage, creating a smooth transition from the general picture into this specific story.

This approach works so well that we find ourselves asking exactly the kind of questions we should with this kind of film. How much of what we are saying is real? Where does reality end and the acting begin? Where, if anywhere, does the director's creative license enter the fray? When we actually sit down and think about it, in terms of the camera always being in an ideal position at the exact time of the action, such questions do become a little redundant. But the fact that we ask them at all, and for so long, is a validation of the film's approach.

Not only is La Haine very realistic, it is also deeply cine-literate. Some of the references are upfront, such as Vincent Cassel recreating a scene from Taxi Driver in front of a mirror, and the film's meticulous approach to realism and use of non-professional actors looks back to The Battle of Algiers. But others are more thinly-veiled, or at least open to degrees of interpretation. The scene where a rap DJ plays music out of his window, and the camera pans over the open spaces between the buildings, is like an ironic rendering of the scene in The Shawshank Redemption where Andy DuFresne treats his fellow inmates to an opera record.

La Haine explores hatred between individuals and groups of people in a variety of interesting ways. On one level it is a film about racism, depicting a society dominated by white, 'respectable' people who have little or no idea about what goes on the poorer areas of town. The make-up of the central trio - one Black, one Jewish, one Arabic - reflects three groups which have traditionally been the subject of discrimination and exploitation in France (the latter being a further connection with The Battle of Algiers). Because the police force and media are dominated by white people, our three main characters are alienated and made to feel like scapegoats for the country's problems.

On another level, the film explores class hatred and the general fear of outsiders. In the later stages of the film, the three men wangle their way into an art gallery, where free drink is being given out at the launch of a new exhibition. Said attempts to hit on a couple of women there, telling them that his friends are sensitive and write poetry, but the women see right through them and are quick to dismiss their half-arsed attempts to be 'cultural'. The men respond by smashing up the artwork and swearing profusely as they leave, alienated by the stuck-up attitudes of their fellow countrymen and -women.

La Haine also explores the possible ethics of violence, and how characters' attitudes change when threatened by or possessing a gun. Early on Vinz reveals that he has found a gun which went missing from a policeman on the night of the riots. Carrying it around in the back of his trousers, he becomes as sociopathic as Travis Bickle, feeling he can take on the world and is willing to die if he takes a few policemen with him. But in the few instances where he gets the chance to use it, he hesitates, being as much of a coward as he claims the police to be. In the end he who lives by the sword dies by the sword, as the film concludes with Vinz being shot in the head at point-blank range.

The thrust of these three analyses is that in an advanced capitalist society such as France, society is constantly on the brink of descending into civil war. The widening gap between rich and poor, coupled with continuing racial discrimination, has led to rising crime, drug use and anger at the powers-that-be, who talk about help and fair treatment but continue to look down on the banlieues. The film begins and ends with Hubert's story of a man falling from a 50-storey building, repeating the phrase "So far, so good" until he lands. The fall is not important; what is important is what happens when he lands, and how hard he lands.

There are a couple of problems with La Haine. Although the characters remain engaging throughout the 90 minutes, it can sometimes feel like we are going round in circles; in its weaker sections the film can feel like talking followed by shouting, repeated ad nauseum. Equally problematic is the bizarre scene of the old man who finds the young men in the toilet. He tells a story of him and a friend travelling through Siberia on a train, stopping to defecate off the back of the train and his friend freezing to death. It's a very odd bit of absurdist humour which jars with everything around it.

In spite of these small distractions, La Haine is still a very powerful film. Its political and social arguments are still fresh and relevant after 16 years, and Kassovitz' direction is by and large exceptional. It is a shame that, out of the main players, only Vincent Cassel has continued to garner the attention he deserves. But as both a document of a troubled past and a stark warning for the present, La Haine remains essential viewing.
Aditya Gokhale
Aditya Gokhale

Super Reviewer

April 10, 2011
Welcome to the "Mean Streets" of Paris - this is the French Suburban "ghetto" where hatred looms large. These are the government owned housing projects where multi-ethnic families reside and just about manage to make ends meet.

The youngsters from the neighbourhood, especially the ones in their early 20s while away their time with their "homeboys" doing almost nothing throughout the day, apart from doing drugs, gathering around rooftops, borrowing money, eating hot dogs, playing loud hip-hop music, performing acrobatics, and acting smart with each other once in a while.

It is a volatile atmosphere where the cops are racist (well..a few bad apples really..) and the hot-blooded youth have waged a war against the system. A young Arab, Abdel Ichaha was brutally beaten up by the Police after questioning, landing him in a coma. The furious youth then took to the streets and rioting ensued, which left several policemen injured.

Mathieu Kassovitz 's "La Haine" chronicles 24 hours in the life of three such typical young men in the aftermath of the riots.

So we have this Afro-French boxer, Hubert (Hubert Koundé) who used to run a gym before it got burned down in the riots. He is the sane and more thoughtful one of the lot, and is saddened by the state of affairs in the ghetto. He harbours a wish to leave the life in the projects and move on to a better one, but doesn't know how to. He is clearly more optimistic. He is of the opinion that hatred breeds more hatred. He believes that even if you are falling, it doesn't matter how you fall. How you land is what matters! Until then, it's "so far so good"!

Then there is his buddy, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), seemingly his polar opposite when it comes to general ideas about life, the good-for-nothing hot-headed Jewish street punk who carries an air of arrogance and a general feeling of hate for the system. He imagines himself to be a Travis Bickle and even mouths off the famous "You talkin' to me" bit in front of the mirror! He keeps reassuring himself that he is the ultimate "hood" and swears revenge for Abdel by proclaiming to his buddies that if Abdel dies, he will surely kill a cop!

Somehow striking a balance between the two extremes is the happy-go-lucky young Arab kid, Sayid (Saïd Taghmaoui).

These three young men venture out to lead their mundane lives just following the riots, not knowing much of what to do. All throughout their time out, we see them going through a series of eventful episodes. While some of their adventures are of no significant consequence, others make them confront their true self and make them aware of their standing in the society. Plenty of extremely well-written scenes here, memorable ones at that, which are best left for the viewer to find out.

Kassovitz, with his meager budget and the then less-known actors (This is Vincent Cassel's second film and his first breakthrough film) crafts a compelling and gritty drama albeit one that makes an oft-made statement on the futility of violence and how one incident seemingly stemming from racial prejudice can cause irreparable damage to human relations and in general create turbulence in an otherwise stable society. Every frame of "La Haine" oozes stark realism, shot in a very effective black and white tone. Kassovitz has used a handheld camera and has worked wonders with it (with the help of cinematographer Pierre Aïm). Watch out for some strategically executed camera movements and angles that even experienced filmmakers may not have thought of. He even intersperses real-life footage of some on-going riots at the time of filming, especially during the title sequence against an apt reggae number from Bob Marley "Burnin' and Lootin'".

The force that binds "La Haine" together is the event-driven narrative and its earthy characters. Needless to say a lot is expected from its actors. And they certainly deliver. The acting is near flawless from all three lead actors but the star that shines the brightest is Vincent Cassel in a scintillating performance that proves what a versatile actor he is. This was just the beginning of a successful career for the talented actor, with so many memorable performances through the years.

"La Haine" deserves to be watched by anyone who claims to like serious cinema. It is the kind of film that you may love or you may hate....but it is an important film, one that you certainly cannot ignore!

Super Reviewer

March 19, 2007
An angry movie, a honest portray of the frustrations of an entire generation lost in a world consumed by intolerance. While a bit of the energy gets lost in the second half the movie remains effective and always demanding your attention.
familiar s

Super Reviewer

March 19, 2009
Since I went in expecting a vengeance flick, disappointment was due. And that it was in Black & White (as per IMDb, it's Color | Black and White, so I thought only a part of the movie would be B&W. However, I just kept waiting for the coloring part, only to find it didn't exist, unless it was during the end credits that I skipped) only made the matters worse.
Sophie B

Super Reviewer

April 11, 2010
The narrative was impressive if a bit confusing, but that was probably due to the dodgy subtitles. Fantastic performances throughout, especially from Vincent Cassel. A great story that highlights the violence and urban culture as people want to make a better life for themselves. The ending was quite unpredictable, I never thought that Vinz would end up dead.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

October 1, 2009
A fantastic film from the mid-nineties. It?s a shame Kassovitz has never come close to producing another film of the same calibre. The three leading actors are on top form, it?s so good it?s been ripped off ever since (Paul Thomas Anderson, I'm talking about you! Not only did you use the fantastic and best scene in the movie but you used it in Boogie nights and passed it off as your own. I continue to really hate/love (some) your films)
Aaron N

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2006
Hubert: Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good... so far so good... so far so good. How you fall doesn't matter. It's how you land.

A quality drama all around that features three good leads, a solid story concerning race relations, a missing gun, and police brutality, and a wonderful visual style that starts by filming the story in black and white and continues by maintaining a wonderful sense of cinematography throughout. The subject matter is bleak, but the film manages to grab you and keep you interested, working with how well made it is.

Set during a single day in crime ridden area of France, which has just gone through another riot, three friends, a Jew - Vinz, an Arab - Said, and an African - Hubert spend the day dealing with some issues and a couple particular pieces of information. A friend of theirs has been hospitalized due to police brutality. Also, one of the police officers involved in the riot has lost their gun. Vinz happens to find the gun, and believes he should kill a cop if their friend dies at some point during the day. As the day goes on, the three encounter various situations, including a few run ins with cops who assume the men to be up to no good based on how they look and where they are from, as well as arguments/discussions between them and others about the basic social situation in their home.

While watching this film, I was certainly reminded of films like Do the Right Thing, Battle of Algiers, and City of God. It certainly helps that this film is up to par with those. Never acting preachy or working to prove a specific point in any direction, the film seems to effortlessly flow due to the work of the three leads. Each character is different, with different backgrounds and understandings of where they are living. The film works well to develop each character, weaving them in and out of different aspects of the story.

The direction by Mathieu Kassovitz is solid, as I've mentioned. Setting the tone straight off with a short monologue and news footage of various riots in France, the film works well to keep one interested and intrigued by its presentation. Certainly keeping up this spirit is how Kassovitz works with his camera. A number of subtle touches work well to make the most out of a low budget film.

Without delving to deep into the actual race relations aspect of the film, I was intrigued throughout with how this film dealt with its issues. With these things being said about this material, the film is also quite funny at times. There is some dark material, but the mood is certainly given a few breaths occasionally, which works to hold a balance.

Very good, very well made.

Hubert: So far so far so good...

Super Reviewer

June 3, 2008
A powerful film about a troubled society, La Haine is difficult to take. As in the best human dramas, its characters are neither totally good nor totally bad: Vinz, a Jew, Hubert, an African, and Said, and Arab. In the context of riots taking place in the suburbs of Paris, mostly populated by immigrants, they must confront injustice, the prejudice they experience from the police because of their ethinicity, their desire for revenge, and the principles "they learned at school". Aware of who they are, where they come from, and why they might be looked down upon, they embark in a 24-hour oddyssey through the streets of the suburbs, and then Paris itself, during which all they really do is... nothing. Only that we, as outsiders, get to watch the origins and the consequences of the hate they feel towards racism in French society.
Although it is, as I said, difficult to digest, it's also very much up to date, and relevant: some things never change, and discrimination is one of them, for whatever reason. The place where these characters live, an ugly, desolate, hostile neighborhood, and the things that they do (talk about drugs, and sex, do drugs, beat each other up, beat policemen up, talk about how everything is full of shit) bring this issue of HATE to a specific location in time and place, but it is not limited to that. In a way, Vinz, Hubert, and Said, are archetypes: even though the director most likely had in mind the Paris riots exclusively, the plot is universal. The characters are people, real people.
All three actors are fantastic. They wear the skin of their characters perfectly, and the act exactly like we would expect them to. The cinematography and editing, while not brilliant or outstanding or groundbreaking, manages to create the necessary atmosphere. The pace is also just right.
In conclusion, La Haine is a profound film that requires tolerance and empathy. I guess that, in a way, those are the things it's supposed to teach us. At the same time, it also shows us that not because these characters suffer the effects of racism, they are immediately exempt from also harboring feelings of racism, or aggresiveness -and how do you judge them then? You don't. By the end, it's obvious that the hate they receive produces hate inside them, too. An angry, brilliant film.

Super Reviewer

April 4, 2009
"Three Young Friends... One Last Chance."

Abdel, a local hoodlum, is hospitalized after a riot, where a policeman lost his gun. His friend Vinz finds it and claims he will kill a cop if Abdel dies.

I have never seen anything like this one. The first image strikes us right in the face: the world, lost in a emptiness of black, is covered by the blowing slo-mo flames of a cocktail molotov. The story may look simple. But that is the exact way it wants to be. Here we have a journey into the places hate lives. Here we journey through the deep entrails of hate, which grows, and cannot be stopped. When you think everything is right, everything is wrong. When you find peace, war seeks us. Here we are close-up to the ghettos we want to avoid, at the same time people who live there are always thinking of revenge, even if they are subject of social and physical abuse. Technically the movie is genius, beautifully shot in black and white, with a great music selection and three great leads, which look and think like they were really from the streets. Some scenes stroke me particularly (the opening shot, the camera wandering over the rooftops as the music spreads, the final scene) and will still strike me in the future. This movie has also a great amount of juice to be drunk, and requires multiple viewings to be seen properly. A work of genius, which reflects the quality of young values when they are given the proper treatment.
Morgan G

Super Reviewer

April 24, 2009
Visually astonishing, the complex lives of the main trio left me a little bemused by the end but an excellent start and superb direction and cinematography.
Lady D

Super Reviewer

January 27, 2007
The first film to give Vincent Cassel recognition and rightly so, a great performance. There is no exact storyline here, in a conventional sense of beginning, middle and end, more of a telling of a tale of a riot, three friends, the estate and the police.

Filming the movie in black and white, gave it the feel of an independent film and added to it?s menace.

Super Reviewer

July 21, 2008
La Haine is an edgy, well crafted and unforgettable film from Matthieu Kassovitz.
The film centers on an unlikely group of friends in the suburbs of France and their reactions to the violence that occurs around them.
Matthieu Kassovitz gives us a powerful film, rich in originality which is undoubtedly a triumph in film-making. Cleverly shot in black and white with swift and stunning camera work, which gives La Haine a raw and intense feel.The three main actors give superb performances, particularly Vincent Cassel proving his talent in an early role.
La Haine is a remarkable achievement that intrigues and entertains you right until it's shocking climax.
Tim S

Super Reviewer

June 24, 2008
It's like Boyz in tha Hood, but with French guys. Vincent Cassel is a badass, even though he is doing a DeNiro impression the entire time. The thing I liked the most about it was the direction, it's a shame Kassovitz had to come to America and do Gothika because this movie shows a director with a lot of promise. He should return to the streets of Paris and act in more Speilberg movies.
Michael S

Super Reviewer

April 1, 2007
*On my "best of the 1990s" list.
Pierluigi P

Super Reviewer

June 13, 2007
Honest and thought provoking view of the violent economical and racial segregation among second generation immigrants in france. fun and powerful minute by minute.
Alexander W

Super Reviewer

January 11, 2008
This film kicks your feet up at the turn of the Paris riots (the ones in 95 bro) and lends your ears to the sweet sound of french actors portraying a tightly nit friendship with twists and turns that portrays a gritty Paris. I can't see why anyone would like this film, and I say that because the film is directed with gusto (gusto a word describing the fast pace of urban life, not a a person) I think the closer you live to the heart of a city the more you will appreciate and like this movie. It doesn't cover every story in the city, but if compared to "red shoe diaries", then Matthew K would surely be able to contend blindfolded.

Super Reviewer

March 23, 2007
I'm obviously in the minority here, but I thought the characters were absurd stereotypes and the dialogue was utterly appalling. Maybe it was the translation...
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