Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine is a gritty social drama set in Paris covering topics that are still relevant almost 25-years later.
The film opens with a montage of footage from various riots following the hospitalisation of a young man named Abdel Ichacha.
It is said that the director was inspired by several cases of police brutality in France during the late 80s and early 90s and the response to such injustices by minorities living in the banlieues of Paris.
The story follows three young men who are of Jewish (Vinz), African (Hubert) and Arab (Saïd) descent and are friends of the recently brutalised Abdel.
With a 98-minute runtime, the movie is set on one specific day. Kassovitz puts the trio in different scenarios throughout the movie which progressively unwraps the elements of hatred, racial division and social disparity present in their lives.
Vinz is the angry one looking to avenge Abdel and shares a hatred towards police officers. Hubert is a boxer whose gymnasium was burnt down during the riots and is looking to leave his district for a better life while Saïd plays the balancing scale between his two friends.
The characters come from immigrant families living in the commune of Chanteloup-les-Vignes at the outskirts of Paris.
Cinematographer Pierre Aïm does an effective job with the visuals as the movie is in black and white, which to me symbolises the repetitive monotony of injustices faced by people of colour.
The lack of a colour palette adds to the seriousness of the topic and, looking back at it now, was the right decision from the filmmakers.
In the events that unveil throughout as the group spend a night in central Paris, Kassovitz demonstrates a series of violent situations that pose moral dilemmas.
Vinz wants to carry out destructive acts in order to prove a point while Hubert tries to defuse all of the situations.
By the end of the movie viewers a presented with a tragic conclusion highlighting the cycle of racial division and police brutality.
As Hubert says, “La haine attire la haine” which means hatred breeds hatred.
You can see why this movie struck a chord with movie-goers and politicians alike, reflecting on the prejudice faced by migrant communities that are in France and the rest of Europe even in the present day.
Source of Image: BFI