La Haine (The Hatred), a French ghetto tale/ movie review

Before some negative critics start barking at me, I d like to point out that you will be more likely understand the story better if you have lived or are still living in a French ghetto.

Global rating of the product: 4.5 stars

A man who accidentally fell from a huge building needs to be reassured. He keeps telling to himself all the way during his downfall: everything is ok till now.
Falling is not the most important, but your landing.

This sentence, which starts the movie, summarizes the difficulty of growing up in the ghetto.

Produced by Matthieu Kossovitz, La Haine opens on an overheated youth riots against the police theater. A Bob Marley musical background draws the dramatic context of a story that takes place at the Cite des Muguets, a ghetto near Paris, in the early 90 s, at a time riots, protests, young ghetto people and police violent fights were part of the French history. Because economical and political problems remain misunderstood and unsolved, history likes repeating itself, as the recent French riots tend to prove it.

The youths from the second and third generation of immigrants are often viewed as nuisances, but nobody in the government takes the time to have a realistic look at their harsh conditions of living and their hopelessness.

The poignant drama, La Haine, introduces you into a typical French ghetto, where a young man, Abdel Isha, who had been caught in the middle of the riots and beaten up by the police, is now between life and death at a local hospital.

Three buddies, a young Jewish guy, Vince, his fellow Said, of Algerian origins and their mate Hubert, a young black man, live in the middle of the Cite des Muguets.

All the three of them have accumulated, through the recent events, a great dose of hatred and bitterness. Their already fragile mental stability has been destroyed as well as their environment. Cars have been burnt, sports buildings and schools have been turned into a gigantic chaotic no man s land. Vince is mad at the cops and envisions killing one of them in case his friend Abdel doesn t survive. He even acquired a gun for that precise purpose.

While Hubert whose dream is to become a boxer and Said don t share Vince s extreme views about shooting a cop as a form of retaliation, both nevertheless think that they are the victims of an infernal system.

While the movie also pictures some comical scenes of the young men acting in front of the mirror, mimicking their rage and some interesting break dance and Djing scenes, it also offers a deep reflection about today s youth malaise and difficulties of living in the hood. It draws the police s brutality against young males in the ghetto.

The movie is cut in short sequences that will allow the viewer to follow the story of a day s journey with a dramatic ending.

There are a lot of happenings during the movie that would be too long to summarize within a short review, including an altercation with an awful band of skinheads in the middle of Paris in which Vince renounces to kill the skinhead he and his friends caught while the skinhead was trying to escape from them.

While Said is trying to get his money back ,downtown, in Paris, Said and Hubert will be caught and mistreated by the police. Vince escapes, but will rejoin them afterwards at the train station. The last train has gone and our three boys are condemned to stay in Paris until the morning.

While standing still, watching a last bulletin news at the station, Abdel s picture appears on the screen. He just passed away.

Vince promises vengeance. He is determined to shoot a cop.

But destiny is a bitch. Back in the hood, a dumb policeman catches Vince and plays an insane comedy with the young man pretending to kill him for fun with his- already loaded- gun that shoots a merciless bullet into Vince s head.

Hubert, who watches his friend die in front of his eyes points a gun at the killer cop who is also ready to shoot. The viewer will guess the ending of the scenario easily.

As the movie stops on Said s confused and horrified glance, Hubert s voice will remind you of his own downfall:

A man who accidentally fell from a huge building needs to be reassured. He keeps telling to himself all the way during his downfall: everything is ok till now.

Falling is not the most important, but your landing.

The movie that is pictured in black and white is brilliantly interpreted by Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde and Said Taghmaoui who will give the viewer some insights about the youths hope, difficulties and harsh struggles in the French ghettos. It is also a good overture for a deep reflection about the current events- I mean the recent French riots- that made the headlines, but that were often misinterpreted and badly covered by the French and foreign media.

The youths from the French ghettos are nothing else than the products of their environment. They are France s unwanted kids whose parents and grandparents the government welcomed in the 70 s as working forces.

They have the French nationality on paper, but a whole nation discriminates against poor kids with foreign sounding names, who just aim at being treated equally and having fairer chances on the job market.

Instead of dealing with the problem, the French government reinforces strict and often unjustified police measures, making kids in the ghetto feel even more insolated and discriminated against.

I really liked Matthieu Kossovitz movie, because he goes straight to the facts and identifies the problem where it actually lies. His unbiased way of telling the story, the young actors undeniable talent, the good dose of humor that contrasts with the rough ghetto universe makes this film a must see. I recommend it to all of you.

Copyright © 2007 by Isabelle Esling
All Rights Reserved

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