La Haine Review

Image for La Haine

Three friends - Vinz, Said and Hubert - meet the morning after a riot sparked by the injury in police custody of a young man from their neighbourhood. While the three kill time, the violence of the previous night threatens to well up again.


If you peer hard enough from the roofs of the Parisian suburbs where La Haine is set, you can just about see the tourist-friendly face of the city in the distance. Using tough, immediate, black-and-white photography, Kassovitz presents a world that's socially and ethnically (if not geographically) a million miles away from Amelie.

In fact, the atmosphere of boiling-over tension among restless youths reacting to police brutality is closer to Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing than any other French movie of the period.

Kassovitz and leading man Cassel slapped their national cinema across the face as the men to watch in 1995. And, as this re-release proves, as a portrait of an inner city, multiracial community drawn together by boredom, anger, prejudice and pounding rap music, La Haine has lost none of its punch.

Stark, exquisite black-and-white photography drains what little cheer there is out of the concrete jungle, creating an alien cityscape devoid of sunshine. But Mathieu Kassovitz's triumph is in finding humanity in every single one of his characters, whethe