La Haine review – effervescent classic radiates with rage and comedy | Film

Join SoundtrackStream to find out the article “La Haine review – effervescent classic radiates with rage and comedy | Film”

Mathieu Kassovitz’s classic of banlieue rage has been rereleased after 25 years with a new urgency and relevance in the Black Lives Matter era. What comes across now isn’t the “hate” of the title, more the aimless, directionless comedy of three guys hanging around, bantering and squabbling about things such as which cartoon character is the most badass. It is touches like this which make you realise how very 90s it all is, similar to Tarantino and Trainspotting (with a nod to Taxi Driver’s “You talkin’ to me?” scene) but it also has a little something of the French New Wave, the world of Jacques Rivette’s Paris Belongs to Us, all of which influenced the later Americans. It’s a film about which I’ve had fluctuating views. Perhaps as a result of having watched it so much, I greeted the 10th-anniversary rerelease with some grumpy contrarianism. Now I think it simply looks superb.

The age of Jacques Chirac’s presidency dawns uneasily (an official portrait is glimpsed in one scene) and in a tough inner-city estate outside Paris, the neighbourhood is waking up to the grim aftermath of a violent protest against police brutality, which has put a man in hospital in critical condition. His friend Vinz (Vincent Cassel) is simmering with rage, threatening to kill a cop with the police-issue gun he’s stolen, a gleaming snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver; meanwhile, he is hanging around with his friends Hubert (Hubert Koundé) and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui) with nothing much to do but wait for the next explosion of rage. There’s a gallery of well-known and (then) up-and-coming French actors in smaller roles: Vincent Lindon is a drunk bloke who turns up just as the trio is trying to steal a car; Philippe Nahon (who worked on Melville’s classic policiers and later became the totemic “Butcher” in Gaspar Noé’s movies) is the grizzled police chief who tries to break up a rooftop barbecue, Karin Viard is a Parisian art-lover – a rare female presence – and Kassovitz himself has a cameo as a neo-Nazi skinhead.

The effervescent energy of this film keeps foaming away under everything; especially under its most amazing sequence: as one guy blasts out music from his decks at the high window of a tower block, Pierre Aïm’s camera ethereally floats out over the rooftops looking down, a moment that departs from the tense mood of the scenes either side of it and has surely influenced the drone camerawork of Ladj Ly’s new banlieue film Les Misérables. (But Kassovitz didn’t have drones in 1995. How did he get that shot?)

Of all the figures in La Haine who stand out, the most startling is Vincent Cassel, making his breakthrough in his late 20s, a man on a hair-trigger with a face like an inverted triangle, sharp as a blade. The late critic Philip French described Cassel best, calling him “fiercely uningratiating”. It is Cassel who supplies the rocket-fuel of resentment; without him, Taghmaoui and Kounde might have been simply too laid-back, although again I’m not sure that Cassel is projecting “hate” as such. Our three musketeers are to come across some bizarre things on their travels, including a cameo from Tadek Lokcinski as an elderly Pole in a public toilet who emerges from a stall to tell them all about the importance of defecating regularly. There is also a very shrewd and disturbing scene in which two cops school a younger colleague in violent interrogation and the art of not going too far.

The movie is bookended with the famous non-joke about the guy who falls off a skyscraper and, as he falls, people can hear him optimistically murmuring: “So far, so good … so far, so good…” A brutal landing is imminent, the movie implies, a horrible violent reckoning of racial injustice. For 25 years since La Haine came, it seems as if the fall has been continuing and the definitive landing has still not happened, or rather that we get the fall, the landing, then another fall. The violent descent has been contained and normalised. It’s more a case of “So far, so bad … so far, so bad…” La Haine is an unmissable response to an unending emergency.

La Haine is in cinemas from 11 September.

Source: The Guardian
Keyword: La Haine review – effervescent classic radiates with rage and comedy | Film

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *