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Haine, Laaka - Hate
Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz
Running time 95 minutes
Mathieu Kassovitz's black-and-white film was an international hit, its subject matter, contemporary riots in the Parisian “projects”, and its cinema verité style being then relatively novel and confrontational. Set in the immediate aftermath of a riot, the film follows a group of three males (Said Taghmaoui, Vincent Cassel and Hubert Kounde) for a 24 hour period as they await news of a friend wounded by the police. Cassel’s character, Vinz, who is burning with hatred for the pigs, has gun that one of the police lost during the fracas and has vowed revenge should their friend die.
Kassovitz’s portrait of the three young men is sympathetic but not in any well justified way. Whilst their conditions may well be unjust (the film was based on the killing by police of Makome M’Bowole while in custody) this does not in itself entitle them to our sympathies. Essentially they are not interesting as characters and as the subject of a film their aimless meanderings and railings against The System are even less so. In hindsight the film looks a good deal more contrived than probably it did in its day with some aspects such as the break-dancing sequence coming across as gratuitous.
FYI: For those interested, Spike Lee tackled similar themes with much greater flair six years earlier in Do The Right Thing.