: High on the Hog Blog
Purveyor of Idle Observation

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La Haine (Hate), Epochal French Film by Mathieu Kassovitz, now out on DVD.

By: Luke Gilman | Other Posts by
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A cinematographer I worked with in Boston turned me on to this film in 1998. I borrowed his crappy VHS version that I had to pinky-swear I would bring back to the set the next morning. I watched it on 13″ TV/VCR combo, but it couldn’t have been any more arresting. I’ve spent more time than I want to admit trying to get a good viewable copy to share with other people, including a PAL version from Britain and a bittorrent copy with no subtitles.

Finally, a honest-to-goodness legitimate US DVD copy is available, released last week on the Criterion Collection (wikipedia).

When he was just twenty-nine years old, Mathieu Kassovitz took the international film world by storm with La haine (Hate), a gritty, unsettling, and visually explosive look at the racial and cultural volatility in modern-day France, specifically in the low-income banlieue districts on Paris’s outskirts. Aimlessly whiling away their days in the concrete environs of their dead-end suburbia, Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Koundé), and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui)—a Jew, an African, and an Arab—give human faces to France’s immigrant populations, their bristling resentment at their social marginalization slowly simmering until they reach a climactic boiling point. A work of tough beauty, La haine is a landmark of contemporary French cinema and a gripping reflection of its country’s ongoing identity crisis.

It’s hard to believe it’s twelve years old. Two thumbs way, way up.

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Category: film & television


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