Wednesday, July 20, 2011

365 Movies Day #114 "La Haine"

Vincent Cassel is back on the blog! This time for a film he did in 1995, "La Haine" ("Hate"). Cassel has been featured before here for his roles in "EASTERN PROMISES", "BIRTHDAY GIRL", "MESRINE: KILLER INSTINCT" and "MESRINE: PUBLIC ENEMY #1".

In this film, when an Arab youth is badly beaten and hospitalized by the police, riots engulf the projects. In their wake, three friends are forced to deal with the events that happen after and their lives will never be the same. Cassel plays Vinz (all the lead characters are named for the actors that play them), a Jewish kid who claims that if Abdel (the Arab youth) dies, he's going to kill a cop in response. Another of the three leads is played by Saïd Taghmaoui, who you may recognize from a film I did (he was Breaker in "GI JOE: Rise of Cobra" or from "LOST". Said plays Vinz's spunky Arabic pal who lives in the shadow of his brother. Said actually co-wrote the film with his friend and director of the film Mathieu Kassovitz. Finally, the third friend is played by Hubert Koundé. Hubert is actually a close friend of David Belle, founder of "parkour" or "free running" and star of previously mentioned "BANLIEU 13". It was actually Hubert who coined the term "parkour"! Hubert is a young black man who was working to turn his life again and do right by his family, until his gym gets burned down in the riots.

The film is all in black and white and features a couple very interesting recurring elements. One is a recurrent blatantly obvious use of product placement from the Nike swatch on Vinz jacket to the Perrier water ads and Sigh cola cans. Not sure if this was just for funding or if there is a significance I am missing. Another is a recurring use of characters telling jokes or stories of various levels of funny, culminating in the one Hubert tells at the beginning of the film. Also interesting to point out that each of the leads represents a different racial minority in France. The film is reminiscent of flicks like "Trainspotting" in its depiction of fringe youth.

A couple more interesting facts in closing about director Mathieu Kassovitz. He later starred with Cassel in "BIRTHDAY GIRL" with him and Cassel playing two of the main Russian thugs after the lead. He also directed several other films that will be featured on the blog at a later with Cassel. Also, as an actor he's been in movies such as "Amelie", "Munich" and even had a cameo in "La Haine" as a young skinhead.

This is a great film and another member of the Criterion collection.


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