Movies to watch before you die: La Haine
In first glance, La Haine looks like a movie that would be enjoyed only by pseudo-anarchists who googled the definition and glimpsed at William Godwin's book and are majorly fans of Rage Against the Machine and Rise Against (no jokes, I'm literally the same). But wait a minute my dear intellectual non-political reader, I know what you are thinking, "Oh, god another Fight Club?" No, my dear reader. There is no similarity between the two movies.
La Haine or Hate as it is known in the USA and the rest of the world respectively, is a French independent film released back in 1995 and took over the world by storm. Its black and white form was a necessary aesthetic integration for the gritty storytelling and not just to please some edgelords of Instagram or convince David Fincher fans that he is artistic (looking at you Mank). The director unintentionally had managed to destroy the illusion of France and more specifically Paris as the dream travel location as it was usually shown in many US movies. Set in the slums of the city of Love, La Haine follows the everyday life of a diverse set of three characters; Vinz, Hubert and Saïd who spend their day(s) doing fuck all since the riots have destroyed most of the destinations three normal teenagers would hang out at.
This ain't just about the plot
While the story and the plot of La Haine is a very fundamental aspect as to what makes it a great film, it should not be watched under the impression that it is a story telling masterpiece. Because it's really not. What carries this movie are the characters and the events that simoultaneously happen in the background. To watch this movie you should set your expectations right; imagine that you are seeing a glimpse of the real, no-Hollywood filters, no tourist money backed Paris. And mostly its ugly side. Riots are all over the streets. Policemen are everywhere. And everything looks like a post-apocalyptic war zone. But the people steal the show. They act like nothing is wrong. They live their lives simple and they are not just surviving, in fact, they fucking enjoy it too. You see people doing anything they can to survive in these harsh conditions while having the police on their neck. DJs are playing music, people are dancing in abandoned locations and the movie generally somehow reeks of life. Not the best form of life, but it reeks with some form of life.
This does not mean they are respecting the law either. The constant tension between law and chaos is always there and it manages to engage the viewers in terms of choosing what they think is right or wrong. Flash forward to so many years and this is still a controversial topic that is being constantly brought up in our TVs and Radios.
However, it still manages to say a lot.
As mentioned, do not expect crazy plot twists or complex lore behind this movie. It shares an adventure of three misfits in the endzones of nearly destroyed Paris in which constantly riots errupt, people die and hunger ensues. However, it still manages to fit clear messages about friendships, the hardships of life, the artificial toughness we create as a defense mechanism and much more. Our three protagonists all have their own shit to go through and director Mathieu Kassovitz gives us enough to sympathise and relate to them even though we have enough reasons to freaking hate their guts. However, the journey we see allows us to explore their personality in full and see why they are as messed up as they appear.
The movie manages to tell a compelling story (for a few viewers who enjoy a bit of slower, not so dramatic approach to storytelling).
The best way to explain this movie is like this; What if a part of society failed and left a bunch of misfits with nothing to do?
Well, fucking chaos would ensue. And its narrated in such a raw way that it compells you and makes you invested in this authoritarian-looking place. Sometimes the aesthetic even reminded me of a non-future looking Akira without the crazy bikes.
Moreover, the critical point of the movie comes when a policeman's gun is lost in a riot. That's it for the story as once again, I do not want to spoil it.
Camera tricks and aesthetic:
This is a beautiful film. Not in a Bladerunner 2049 or any Wes Anderson film kind of beautiful. Let me just say that this movie is that mysterious girl/guy you have seen once or twice and while your friends have overlooked that person, you have been intrigued by them. And while you keep throwing them swift looks, you cannot help yourself but to admire how freaking beautiful they actually are. But each to his/her own I guess. The director manages to use crazy camera tricks that still manage to impress viewers today. For example look at this particular scene where one of the protagonists is staring at himself in the mirror.
It is fucking insane right? Do you wonder how he did it? Well, there are no mirrors in this scene. It's just a double across the actor mimicking his movements. Imagine coming up with this in 19fucking95! Nowadays, directors (with the exception of Nolan and George Miller) have it well with all the CGI but back then, they had to get very creative to achieve such creative filmmaking.
Another great shot is the dolly zoom over Paris. Just. look.
The cinematography is just one of the few reasons one should watch this cult hit.
La Haine or the Hate is very good at weighing explicit teenage humor and deeply socioeconomical discussions about the hierarchy of social classes, disparity and the distribution of wealth in life. However, this is not just it. The movie is such a multi-layered masterpiece that I think it should be watched at least twice in one's life. Moreover, the subliminal and the in-your-face messages are beautiful and very compelling as food for thought and its grittines will distort any delusion you may had about the possibility of a perfect location (especially Paris man, honestly, live a little).
Finally, I will let you on a little secret. The ending will leave you with your mouth wide open staring at the screen.
And finally, to reward you for your patience, here is the link to watch the movie at the comfort of your house on YouTube. Who does this for his readers, goddamn it? Tell me, who?