World cinema has never been more popular. “Parasite” put global cinema on the map, and the advent of streaming services has provided access to more foreign films than ever before. One movie in particular that I hope audiences get a chance to see is Mathieu Kassovitz’s “La Haine.”
The 1996 crime thriller is a gangster movie without the gangsters. It stars Vincent Cassel, Saïd Taghmaoui, and Hubert Koundé as three 20 somethings wandering Paris following the incarceration of their friend. They each have different opinions on the senseless violence between civilians and police; culminating a story that doesn’t question right from wrong, but rather criticizes the need to even ask the question. Police brutality is at the forefront of the film, and it’s relevance couldn’t be more pertinent in 2021.
But aside from the social commentary, “La Haine” is also cinematically brilliant. The monochrome cinematography is gorgeous, and it’s a film that doesn’t shy away from being a film. Kassovitz loves to drift the between different conversations and its effect is hypnotic; we feel like the fourth member in this trio of wannabe hoodlums. As pretentious as it sounds, “La Haine” defines cinema as an art form, and some of the shots could hang in the Met.
“La Haine” is currently available on the Criterion Collection, or for rent on Amazon and YouTube. If you’re a student, check to see if your school works in conjunction with Kanopy, another streaming site. That’s where I watched “La Haine” and the site in general hosts a remarkable number of amazing movies.
If you’re tired of classic American filmmaking, I highly recommend “La Haine.” I can guarantee it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen and will leave you with a deeper appreciation for foreign filmmaking. In the words of Bong Joon-Ho: “Once you overcome the one-inch-tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.”