Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
Alternate Title: Hate.
France, 1995. Canal+, Cofinergie 6, Egg Pictures, Kasso Inc. Productions, La Sept Cinema, Les Productions Lazennec, Polygram Filmed Entertainment, Studio Image. Screenplay by Mathieu Kassovitz. Cinematography by Pierre Aim. Produced by Christophe Rossignon. Music by Assassin. Production Design by Giuseppe Ponturo. Costume Design by Virginie Montel. Film Editing by Mathieu Kassovitz, Scott Stevenson. Cannes Film Festival 1995. Toronto International Film Festival 1995.
A number of films exploring the dangers, challenges and vulnerabilities faced by citizens of Parisian suburbs have come out since Mathieu Kassovitz’s breakthrough, Cannes-winning feature, and few of them measure up to its charisma. Three friends, played by Vincent Cassel, Hubert Koundé and Saïd Taghmaoui are, like their neighbours, furious over the police beating of one of their friends during a riot in the banlieu the night before. While the victim of brutality lies in hospital close to death, the boys spend a day getting into various sorts of trouble before heading to the city proper and looking for more all night. Filmed in gorgeous black and white and thriving on the energy of its characters’ youth, mixed with their age-old class frustrations, the film only dips into needless manipulation a few times (I find it hard to believe they’d walk into an art gallery to criticize high-minded snobs, that’s a filmmaker reaching too hard to make a point) but for the most part has an incredible spontaneity to it. Later films on the subject of “La Cite” would lean more on sincerity, but here there’s a daring sense of humour that allows the characters to be responsible for their own actions, and it makes the larger social question hit that much harder.