La Haine

LetterboxD review link

La Haine is one of the best films I’ve seen, ever. It is visually stunning. It has incredible sound design. The material, the acting, the story, feel as fresh as ever, even 20 years after release. I am floored by this masterpiece. It will stand the test of time as a film that so perfectly captures a time in history that it becomes universal in its morals, depiction of society, exploration of power, and commitment to characters and story.

Roger Ebert, in his original review, called this a “Gen X film.” But I wonder if a millennial version of La Haine would be that much different. Young men, living at the margins of society, in urban or suburban projects, could still be described much in the same way as these characters. Pankaj Mishra, in his recent book Age of Anger has a large section on the role that young, unemployed, aimless men have played in the global roots of terrorism. The men in this film fit these descriptions quite well. We, as in the global we, haven’t figured out how to address the needs of young men like this. Nas’s “The World is Yours” (alluded to in the film) is relevant today as it was in 1994, next to Kendrick’s “To Pimp a Butterfly.”

There are a couple of extended scenes where the protagonists are told stories. They are meandering, captivating, well blocked and well acted. The stories end up having unsatisfying endings. To me, this is the director teaching us, the audience, to let go of our expectations for endings. That a successful story cannot only be measured on how well it ends. This is a great red herring, given how powerfully this film ends.