Wednesday, June 20, 2007

La Haine (1995, Mathieu Kassovitz)

"Three friends who live in the french riot filled ghetto spend a day killing time and thinking of things to do after finding a gun that was lost by a policeman the night before in a riot."

I really love Criterion for releasing this hidden gem because if it wasn't for them I don't think I would have ever heard of this film.

The film has already been called the french answer to Do The Right Thing and that's an easy way to put the film and it saves a lot of time explaining its greatness. I believe La Haine always gets the comparison to Do The Right Thing because both films are striking political commentary films while not really addressing anything specific at all. Just general themes such as racism, culture mash ups, and hate. Even the title of the film translates to "Hate" but just as in Do The Right Thing the film decides to hold back punches and focus more on natural characters before assaulting you in the final minutes. I think this is the sole purpose why the comparisons come so often between the films. However there is much more to La Haine than just a well executed "political film"

One of the many reasons why the film stands apart and is just amazing to watch is its gorgeous black and white photography. Not only does the film have that beautiful Raging Bull black and white to it but the direction is jaw dropping amazing as well. The film contains a confident style behind every image that never seems flashy and never seems like the director just trying to wow you with his camera movements and placements. It just all feels natural and you never really notice the style of everything you are watching until the scene in half way in. If you are the type of film buff that loves long tracking shots, amazing camera movements, or just beautiful framing then this film will have you smiling through out the whole time.

Once again La Haine is also much more than a subtle political film with gorgeous cinematography. It's also just a damn good well acted character study. The three lead actors give genuine natural performances that makes the whole film seem improvised which in turn makes the film all seem natural. When you add this natural sense of acting to the cinematic photography it makes the cinematography seem normal and distracts from its flashiness. This might sound like a bad idea but it works for the film and only helps to improve the direction of the film. I guess you can say that it makes the style of it all seem believable in the world and makes it easier to any viewer to just lose themselves in the film.

After watching the film I was quick to check up on other films the director has done since and I was shocked at what I found. The amazing director behind this film went on to do Gothika ?!?!?! Seriously, what??? After seeing this film you wont believe that these two films share the director. I think this is just another proof of how Hollywood can destroy a great director.

Anyways, La Haine is a truly great film. It's nothing short of amazing to watch and it should be mandatory viewing for any casual film buff. It really is much more than just the french answer to Do The Right Thing.

- ****

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