As urgent today as upon its 1995 release, La Haine tracks 24 hours in the lives of three friends from the housing projects on the outskirts of Paris – one of whom discovers a gun lost by a cop in a riot the night before.
Vinz, Saïd and Hubert roam the streets of the poverty-stricken Paris projects, their boredom punctuated by frequent clashes with an ever-increasing police presence. Both sides are seething with tension – an acquaintance is in hospital after a police beating, and a cop station has been burned down in retaliation. When a misplaced Smith & Wesson comes into hothead Vinz’s possession, the clock starts ticking down to an incendiary finale.
Inspired by real-life police brutality and rioting in France, actor-turned-director Mathieu Kassovitz penned a powerful script and entrusted his young cast with delivering raw and exhilarating performances, including a chaotically intense Vincent Cassel.
Kassovitz won Best Director at Cannes in 1995 and La Haine subsequently exploded into French society by dominating the box office, media, and the political conversation. It was one of the first films to posit France’s projects as a “social time bomb”, and its influence can be seen on filmmakers such as Ladj Ly (Les Misérables) and Céline Sciamma (Girlhood).
Brilliantly told and lensed in black and white, La Haine plays out to a backdrop of thumping hip-hop and gritty streetscapes as the friends are drawn ever closer to an inevitable, shocking climax.