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La Haine
(1995)
Mathieu Kassovitz

La Haine, which translates from French as ‘Hate’, shows the gritty underground of Paris, in the midst of riots against the police, who have brutalised a friend of three rebelling and frustrated youths; Vinz, Said, and Hubert, who spend their days smoking dope, petty thieving from stores, robbing cars, amidst of low key run in’s with the police, or as they commonly refer to them as ‘pigs’.

In the French world of cinema the world are mostly familiar with, the usual ‘la belle dame’ and the handsome chain smoking rugged detective or the bad guy you end up rooting for who drinks only fine wines and wears even finer suits, as seen in ‘Breathless’, or whether it be the delightful beauty of Amelie and it’s star Audrey Tatou, La Haine scratches beneath the surface, and is much much more.

When we as an audience consider Paris, we visualize iconic land marks and places such the Eiffel Tower, Arc De Triomphe, the River Seine, the Louve and so forth, we have this image of beauty, but La Haine scratches beneath that world, which is presented as a curtain to mask the real Paris, with the film showing just how flawed and just how ugly Paris can be for the real Parisians and not just loved up weekend tourists dressed in their ironic berets and striped tops with a bottle of red wine in one hand and a baguette under the other.

Stylised in black and white, with elements of American cinema and homages to the infamous Taxi Driver mirror scene and nods to Scarface quotes, the film is littered with references and appearances of American hip hop music, usually being popular amongst the rebellious youth, and reflects on them as they can relate with themes of Police brutality, gang violence, weapons, rioting and racism and the film is really an eye opener.

The film follows the three friends through a series of mis-adventures and comings across with a number of strange and interesting characters, some friendly, some psychopaths. La Haine is a classic, playing against the usual popular conventions of French cinema and a stand out performance from Vincent Cassell as Vinz is truly incredible, who then went on to join the Hollywood elite in Ocean’s Twelve & Thirteen and Black Swan.

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