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.
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.
I 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 not 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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