“Hate” is so prevalent and dangerous because it can be channeled from so many avenues (racism, segregation, sexism, religion, atheism, life and death). Mathieu Kassovitz’s La Haine is a story born through mutual hate, that between cops and thugs. This relationship is drastically different than that of cops and organized crime. For those two dichotomies, there is still an air of mutual respect, a business-like attitude taken from both sides… the term “organized crime” itself draws us to see it as a business enterprise. Kassovitz’s film however, is about petty criminals, thugs, gangstas, those individuals who are chaotic, disorganized, explosive, irritable, and most important of all poor. So while cops and the mafia (organized crime) are two sides of the same coin, one organized to protect the law, the other organized to bend it, cops and thugs are polar opposites; the former funded by the government, supported by the community, held to high regard and structured in a proper hierarchy, and the latter, forgotten, neglected, self-funded, and disorderly.
An incredible film, which tugs at your anger, your distaste, and draws you into a world of angst and revenge, La Haine is a must watch for those looking for modern cinema that is also very affecting and insightful in its portrayal of society and its demons.
The first frame of the movie is a young protester staring the cops in the face and asking “You have guns. We only have rocks.” The 3 main misanthropes who we become acquainted to during this film, we realize, are only that way because society that molded them that way. This isn’t an excuse, it is a fact of life… its is a fact of their existence. Whether its being born in poverty, living their entire childhoods in neglect, or dealing with a societal prejudice against minorities, there are many things which can spark off a distaste for the world, rough up the skin, and bitter the soul. It doesn’t help that the cops are also ready and willing to lock you up or even worse, spend hours tormenting you while you’re tied in a chair (the most difficult to watch scene in the film).
In the end, La Haine represents a slow process of hatred brewing within culture, and how, if it is left to fester, can be deadly to people of all walks of life and on all sides of the isle.