A film which will never escape controversy, Mathieu Kassowitz's La Haine is a story of three friends (one black, one Jewish and one Arabic) struggling to cope with the harsh realities of life in tough suburban Paris.
Shot in an appropriately bleak black and white, the story follows Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Hubert (Hubert Kounde) and Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui) in the 24 hours following riots in their harsh Parisienne suburb, during which their friend Abdel is beaten to within inches of his life by police and is intensive care as a result.
Kassowitz originally shot the film in colour, but switched to black and white in post-production, a decision which in my opinion benefits the film: the relentless repression of expression by the French state and the irrevocable discrimination against these people are issues addressed throughout. The major issue presented is doubtless that of police brutality. Countlessly referred to as 'pigs' by the main characters and portrayed as violent thugs and hypocrites, the French police are certainly the main target in what this film tries to say.
The narrative centres on Vinz finding a policeman's revolver after the previous night's riots and his subsequent power trip, which results in him vowing to shoot a police officer if Abdel finally dies as a result of his beating. This 'suburb' or 'banlieue' is not akin to those we have in Britain and certainly not to those in the USA: almost everyone is either unemployed or not attending school, and everyone seems to be bored, trapped inside this monotonous, sprawling mini-city.