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La Haine (1995)

by British Film Critic

Having known a few crucial plot points and narrative beats before going on, watching this film not only perpetually kept me gripped and surprised, but also entirely blew me away – La Haine is, put simply, a masterpiece, and everything I could have wanted it to be, and so so much more, easily making one of my all-time favourite films, something which only became more apparent the more I thought about it.

Mattieu Kassovitz works so passionately on this film, with an unforgettable direction which clearly demonstrates that the film would not have been anywhere near as groundbreaking and incredible if it had been someone else behind the camera – everything about the film is so meticulously crafted, ensuring it is not only thoroughly captivating, but also that the themes, messages and questions posed in the film will linger on long past the credits roll.

The strong political commentary comes so naturally in the film, ensuring that, rather than it being told to you, it is shown or simply felt by the conversations, demeanours and surrounding environments of our characters – on the occasion that outright commentary is made, it is through the form of cryptic allegories, which keep both you, and the characters, puzzled for the majority of the film.

All of the performances feel so heavily naturalistic, making the film more documentary-esque more than anything – each of the characters are distinct and reflect a different facet of the society the film is presenting, in the most powerful possible way, and in its visual aesthetic, it not only stands out but always takes advantage of the cinematic techniques to convey a message.

La Haine is one of the most raw, powerful and challenging films I have ever seen, and undoubtedly one of my all-time favourites now.