Review : Sound Mind Presents ‘La Haine’ at the Boondocks

Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment in the USA, young people killed by the police in France, acid and racial attacks in the UK… numer­ous events in the past few months show how the social and racial split is pre­dom­in­ant these days. Yet, more than 20 years before, the movie La Haine (means The Hatred in French) still per­fectly high­lights this unease.maxresdefault (1)

Real­ised in 1995 by Math­ieu Kas­sow­itz, it looks like the begin­ning of a bad joke : one white boy, one arab boy and one black boy are on a boat… (no sorry). These 3 guys rep­res­ent what France tried to set up as an idyll dur­ing the nineties : the “liv­ing togeth­er”. The idea is that all the com­munit­ies whatever their social class can cohab­it and, even bet­ter, can cre­ate dynam­ics and a pos­it­ive momentum for the soci­ety. The best example is the World Cup vic­tory of French foot­ball team in 1998 when the team was com­posed of dif­fer­ent eth­nic and social play­ers. It has been used by polit­ics to prove their right meas­ures for the coun­try.  It’s pre­cisely this uto­pia that La Haine des­troys.

How far you fall doesn’t mat­ter, it’s how you land.

First let’s talk about the place, the Boon­docks. It’s typ­ic­ally the kind of place where you can eat  deli­cious Amer­ic­an food while listen­ing to good music. Down­stairs you can chill at the cosy bar. If you go fur­ther you will enter in a huge room. For the occa­sion it looked like a cinema.

578af5c28effbabdb574be6897b44d47I don’t want to spoil you, espe­cially for a movie like this if you are inter­ested in this kind of top­ics. But I will give the main keys to fully appre­ci­ate this film.

First, the char­ac­ters : one white boy who is at war again­st every­body, and espe­cially him­self. He is always act­ing like a thug, being a smar­tass with his gun that he barely knows how to hold. It’s the role which revealed Vin­cent Cas­sel. The oth­er one is an over­whelmed arab guy who has the bad habits to get him­self in dan­ger­ous situ­ations. The last one is a black guy who wants to escape from the ghetto thanks to Sports by box­ing,  his only hope in the chaos. He is the smartest guy in the band.

The film, only in black and white, tells the adven­tures of these three mates dur­ing a day. The unease is every­where and we have the feel­ing that these lads are nev­er at the right place.  The three part­ners in crime can feel it, “We have to leave” or “We are locked up out­side”. This movie is minstrel001bnot only inter­est­ing for a French guy, but also for any­body because it shows and explains many things : the uneas­i­ness of people in inner cit­ies, the sur­round­ing racism, the social split, the bore­dom, the solitude, the pain to do any­thing… inher­ent issues for any kind of soci­et­ies.

Besides all of this and the quite hard movie’s name, it comes to be an extremely appeal­ing movie. Almost more bur­lesque than tra­gic, with a lot of funny scenes like we see in a group of friends. But for each situ­ation its tragedy : the sys­tem tak­ing over its own rights for each escap­ing moments, very often rep­res­en­ted by the police (damn they are every­where or what ?) To that extent we won­der where the hate is : in the ghetto or in the sys­tem side ?

And what about the Hip Hop in all this ? 20 years after, I think this film is still the best Hip Hop main­stream show­case. You can find all the Hip Hop domains : rap, dance, tag and DJing with the amaz­ing DJ Cut Killer’s set (which cre­ated many voca­tions for sure). Any­way, a clas­sic to the max which def­in­itely will mark and change the way you see things. With love… or not.

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Timothée Chataux

Com­ing from Par­is and inter­ested in French & US Hip Hop top­ics. I’m writ­ting about any rel­ev­ant sub­jects for I am Hip Hop magazine. You only know MC Sol­aar ? My mis­sion is to show you many more.

About Timothée Chataux

Coming from Paris and interested in French & US Hip Hop topics. I'm writting about any relevant subjects for I am Hip Hop magazine. You only know MC Solaar ? My mission is to show you many more.