• James Rutherford

'La Haine': A Blistering 90’s-Era Urban Thriller from France


"La Haine” (1995) is an urgent black & white French drama that follows three young friends from immigrant families residing in an impoverished section of suburban Paris.

The story begins the morning after rioting and violent clashes have erupted throughout the surrounding community in reaction to a case of police brutality against a young Arab man, Abdel. As Abdel clings to life, Vinz (Vincent Cassel) effusively declares his outrage toward the police and his desire to kill a policeman in response to their brutality.

Meanwhile his friend Hubert (Hubert Koundé), a boxer, mourns the loss of his gym that has been destroyed in the riots, while their mutual companion Sayid (Saïd Taghmaoui) yearns to escape their confines to a more peaceful place devoid of so much violence and hatred.

Vinz soon finds a policeman’s gun lost amidst the previous night’s chaos, and setting his mind on fulfilling his dark revenge fantasy, sets off with his two friends on a dangerous excursion into the heart of Paris.

Written and directed by Mathieu Kassovitz and shot in striking black & white by Pierre Aïm, “La Haine” is a blistering and profound urban thriller capturing the fury and violence that had engulfed French society at the time—delivering one of the most seminal cinematic achievements of the entire decade.

 

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