Every generation has made films about disaffected young men hanging around, doing nothing, getting into trouble: Fellini’s I Vitelloni, Cassavette’s Shadows, Scorsese’s Mean Streets, Lee’s Do the Right Thing, and many early works by Jean-Luc Godard. In La Haine (1995) three unemployed friends — a Jew, an Arab, and a black African — in the banlieues (housing estates skirting Paris), reacting to the brutal beating by the French police of an Arab boy following riots, must decide, during their Orpheus-in-the-underworld-like trip to Paris, what to do with a found dropped police pistol.
Similar to its forbearers (which it quotes), La Haine has the exuberance of a young filmmaker throwing everything into the pot and striking, bravura camerawork and was a game-changing socio-political depiction of modern times. Like Godard’s films in particular, American popular culture is embraced but now the kids are into rap, hoodies, dope smoking, breakdancing, and fronting, mouthing pithy, funny, authentic dialogue.
The transfer, supervised by Kassovitz, has beautiful, gritty, in-depth 1.85:1 black-and-white images of good contrast, with deep blacks, very bright white lights, and a wide range of grays. Detail and sharpness are variable.
The soundtrack uses surrounds subtly to create the atmosphere of the projects (dogs bark, gates slam, and boxes boom), and dialogue — as well as a great musical soundtrack of Isaac Hayes, Bob Marley, The Beastie Boys, and French rap sampling Edith Piaf — is full and clear.
Video: 1.85:1. Audio: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1. Extras: introduction by actress and filmmaker Jodie Foster, stills gallery, deleted and extended scenes with afterwords by director Mathieu Kassovitz. Studio: The Criterion Collection.
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