La Haine


La Haine

Critics Consensus

Hard-hitting and breathtakingly effective, La Haine takes an uncompromising look at long-festering social and economic divisions affecting 1990s Paris.



Total Count: 25


Audience Score

User Ratings: 40,725
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Movie Info

While to most outsiders Paris seems the very picture of beauty and civility, France has had a long and unfortunate history of intolerance toward outsiders, and this powerful drama from filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz takes an unblinking look at a racially diverse group of young people trapped in the Parisian economic and social underclass. Vinz (Vincent Cassel), who is Jewish, Hubert (Hubert Kounde), who is Black, and Said (Said Taghmaoui), who is Arabic, are young men from the lower rungs of the French economic ladder; they have no jobs, few prospects, and no productive way to spend their time. They hang out and wander the streets as a way of filling their days and are sometimes caught up in frequent skirmishes between the police and other disaffected youth. One day, a street riot breaks out after police seriously injure an Arab student; the three friends are arrested and questioned, and it is learned that a policeman lost a gun in the chaos. However, what they don't know is that Vinz picked it up and has it in his possession, and when Vinz, Hubert, and Said get into a scuffle with a group of racist skinheads, the circumstances seem poised for tragedy. Actress Jodie Foster was so impressed with La Haine when she saw it at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival that she helped to arrange American distribution for the film through her production company, Egg Pictures.


Marc Duret
as Insp. `Notre Dame'
Rywka Wajsbrot
as Vinz's Grandmother
Tadek Lokcinski
as Monsieur Toilettes
Nabil Ben Mhamed
as Boy Blague
Félicité Wouassi
as Hubert's Mother
Fatou Thioune
as Hubert's Sister
Zinedine Soualem
as Plainclothes Policeman
Bernie Bonvoisin
as Plainclothes Policeman
Cyril Ancelin
as Plainclothes Policeman
Karin Viard
as Gallery Girl
Julie Mauduech
as Gallery Girl
Abdel-Moulah Boujdouni
as Young Businessman
Mathilde Vitry
as Journalist
Christian Moro
as CRS TV Journalist
as Fat Youth
Thang Long
as Grocer
Sabrina Houicha
as Said's Sister
Sandor Weltmann
as Vinz Lookalike
Peter Kassovitz
as Gallery Patron
Vincent Lindon
as Really Drunk Man
Mathieu Kassovitz
as Young Skinhead
Virginie Montel
as SDF Metro
Joseph Momo
as Ordinary Guy
Olga Abrego
as Vinz's Aunt
Andrée Damant
as Concierge
Eric Pujol
as Assistant Policeman
Philippe Nahon
as Police Chief
Sébastien Tavel
as Hospital Policeman
François Toumarkine
as Hospital Policeman
Jose-Philippe Dalmat
as Hospital Policeman
as Santo
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News & Interviews for La Haine

Critic Reviews for La Haine

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (25)

  • A layered conundrum that builds to a stunning crescendo, Mathieu Kassovitz's Hate is an extremely intelligent take on an idiotic reality: the mutual mistrust, contempt and hatred between the police and France's disenfranchised young citizens.

    Aug 6, 2008 | Full Review…

    Lisa Nesselson

    Top Critic
  • One of the most blisteringly effective pieces of urban cinema ever made

    Aug 19, 2004 | Full Review…

    Wendy Ide

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • It cuts deeper and shows us the foolishness of its characters as it mourns their inevitable tragedy.

    Jun 18, 2002 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • Writer-director Mathieu Kassovitz mines so much tension and pointed dialogue from a low budget and deceptively simple premise that you wonder why so much of current Hollywood's own social realism ends up shooting $50 million blanks.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4

    Mike Clark

    USA Today
    Top Critic
  • Hate is, I suppose, a Generation X film, whatever that means, but more mature and insightful than the American Gen X movies.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The result is a jittery, propulsive, slangy study of jeunes hommes in the hood, complete with a soundtrack of reggae and rap.

    Feb 9, 1996 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for La Haine

  • Jan 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.
    Carlos M Super Reviewer
  • Mar 19, 2013
    A harsh look at prejudice and violence in modern day France, La Haine is an absolute powerhouse of a film that is as timeless and impressive as it is entertaining. Directed by French actor/director Mathieu Kassovitz (who co-starred in Amélie), La Haine is more or less about three twenty-something year old friends living in the slums of Paris who find a police officer's gun that was left on the street after a race riot. Alienated from society and without a future for themselves, the three friends wander the city with their weapon and debate how they should use it, or who they should use it on. Along the way they encounter a drug dealer, many corrupt policemen, and a group of skinheads. One of the most notable aspects of the movie is Vincent Cassel as the most unstable of the three friends who harbors a deep-seated vendetta against the police and wants to use to gun to kill a policeman. Cassel gives the kind of performance that comes around only once every decade. He completely embodies his character Vinz, who has become frustrated with the intolerance of French society and is eager to take out his aggression on the first person to provoke him. The entire movie is filmed in black-and-white, which is a surprisingly bold move that pays off very well. The lack of color gives it an almost classic look, which is fitting because the themes of racial intolerance and class struggle are just as relevant today as they were in 1995 when La Haine was released. Even though it seems deadly serious at times, La Haine also has a number of unexpectedly funny scenes. The humor is pretty morbid at times, and it almost always comes in the moments when you wouldn't expect it, but it gives the entire movie an interesting feel to it that's hard to describe. Imagine Trainspotting, but more serious. It's similar humor, but instead of permeating the entire movie it just sneaks its way into certain scenes. As a whole, La Haine is infinitely entertaining but also very emotional and gritty. This is a movie that doesn't just represent the frustrated masses of people who feel trapped and abandoned at the bottom of the social pyramid, but also shows them that their struggle is understood and they aren't fighting alone. It's a portrait of three people cornered by a cruel society and left with nowhere left to turn, and it makes for one absolutely incredible movie.
    Joey S Super Reviewer
  • Mar 03, 2013
    La Haine is by far the greatest crime film I've ever seen. Three minorities in the French projects vow revenge on police after there friend is brutalized. The group of friends a Jew (played by Vincent Cassel), an Arab, and a black cause havoc where ever they go. Especially the Jew (Vinz) who has a new gun that he picked up at a riot. The film follows these testosterone filled characters for a mere 19 hours, and despite having no character development, you feel like you know them piece by piece. The film is true realism, shot in black and white, and never does more than it can handle. Yet it is raw to the core. I view this film as a more brutal version of City of God. The director and writer Kassovitz does perfect at both of his jobs. The film editing made this film heart pounding, and the movie never had a dry moment. Filled with anecdotes and witty conversations, it's successful in making you think. During the concluding scene I was sitting with my mouth wide open in shock with the excellence I just witnessed. In the wrong hands the whole movie would have collapsed right there, but instead I was mesmerized by it. La Haine was endlessly awesome, and is a film I will never forget. I don't give five stars much, but I'd be dammed if I wouldn't do it for this true gem. One of the greatest movies ever filmed, high in artistic and entertainment value.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 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.
    Daniel M Super Reviewer

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