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Film / La Haine

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"It's about a guy falling from a 50-story building. As he falls, he tries to reassure himself by repeating: 'Jusqu'ici tout va bien... jusqu'ici, tout va bien... jusqu'ici, tout va bien.' translation . It's not the fall that matters. It's the landing."
Vinz: Who made you a preacher? You know what's right and wrong? Why do you side with the assholes?
Hubert: Who's the asshole? If you had stayed in school, you'd know that hate breeds hate, Vinz.

La Haine (English: Hate) is a 1995 black-and-white French crime drama film written and directed by Mathieu Kassovitz and set in the modern-day slums at the north of Paris — more precisely, in Seine-Saint-Denis (aka "93" or "neuf-trois" from its department number).

The film starts the morning after a riot ensues in the slums following the beating and arrest of a young Arab named Abdel Ichacha, and centers around a trio of banlieusardsnote  that are friends of Abdel's — Vinz (Vincent Cassel), a hot-headed Jew; Saïd (Saïd Taghmaoui), a wisecracking graffiti artist Beurnote ; and Hubert (Hubert Koundé), the oldest and wisest of the three, who is black.

Taking place over roughly the next 24 hours, the group tries to come to grips with their anger over Abdel's predicament while wandering through aimless lives filled with prejudice and profiling, with Vinz harboring an extreme desire for revenge. When news breaks that a cop lost their handgun in the riot, a series of events unfolds against a cultural backdrop of unending tension between the police and the people that reaches an intense boiling point.


La Haine contains examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Vinz. Although at times, he dangerously borders on villain, given that he seems to enjoy his crimes at times. And he can be a very nasty prick to everyone around him.
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops: Played with. All of the police In-Universe are corrupt, abusive, or just plain useless, but as Hubert points out, they're not all bad, particularly when contrasted with the neo-Nazi skinheads that the boys also tussle with. Just as aspirational cop killer Vinz is becoming convinced of this, he's killed by a cop. Come to your own conclusions. To be fair, it's not all cops who are corrupt in this movie. The main corrupt cops are the ones who shot the gang's friend years back, and the small group who interrogates Hubert and Sayid. The rest are mostly just trying to do their job.
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  • Blown Across the Room: Two police officers are blown back into a window when Vinz imagines shooting them.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The film ends with a standoff between a main character and a cop, each pointing a gun at the other's head. The camera pushes past both of them, there's a gunshot, and the film ends.
  • Bookends:
    • The first "non-archive footage" image of the film is Saïd opening his eyes to the sound of a gunshot; the last image is Saïd closing his eyes to the sound of a gunshot.
    • The first and last lines of the film are from a narration by Hubert on how it's Not the Fall That Kills You…, even when someone tries to calm themselves. At the start, he derives this message from a story about a man falling from a building; at the end, he instead says that society is falling and trying to reassure itself.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The entire movie has the viewer wondering if, or when, the police gun that Vinz found will go off. Subverted in that Vinz never shoots the gun, but he is shot and killed by someone else. And most likely Hubert, who tries the whole movie to prevent Vinz from acting, did shoot the gun.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Vinz is prone to flights of fantasy.
  • Cop Killer: Vinz makes it his primary goal to kill a cop with the lost handgun if Abdel dies, much to the dislike of Hubert, who's also critical of Vinz's blanket resentment towards the police. Moments after Abdel is declared dead on the news, he approaches two cops...and merely imagines killing them with a Finger Gun.
  • Crapsack World: The Yvelines (suburbs to the west of Paris) are depicted as this.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Mathieu Kassovitz briefly appears as the skinhead that Vinz intends to shoot.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Originally filmed in color, changed in post-production by Kassovitz himself.
  • Downer Ending: Abdel is declared dead, and it's built as an opportunity for Vinz to learn from his vengeful ways — until he dies a pointless, completely accidental death at the hands of a plainclothes officer, a microcosm for the wider downward spiral of French society through hostility into meaningless violence. This leads to a Mexican Standoff between him and Hubert, and while it's not made clear who was on the receiving end of the single gunshot we hear, it's evident that someone has died for no substantial reason.
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Vinz does this on the skinhead.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Applies to Vinz; while he has Jerkass tendencies, he respects his mother and takes "Honor thy mother and father" very seriously, like his friends.
  • Evil Counterpart: Both the aggressive plainclothes cop in the woolly hat and Vinz seem to regard each other as being this. They are both always itching for confrontation: the cop can't resist taunting the residents of the estate and has to be continually restrained by his colleagues. In the end, it's this cop who will accidentally kill Vinz.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The movie takes place over the course of less than one day.
  • Facecam: Camera mounted on a car that drives Vinz around.
  • False Roulette: Astérix makes fun of Vinz by playing this trick on him, freaking him alongside Saïd and Hubert out.
  • Finger Gun: Vinz uses one to pretend-kill various people and animals throughout the movie, either indicative of his being truly unable to commit actual murder, or that he's going to get shot soon.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If one looks closely during Vinz's Cop Killer Imagine Spot, they might find that his hand looks as if it has been fused with a gun.
  • Gay Moment: Although jokingly in a rather anti-gay movie. Vinz gives Sayid a haircut for a date with his girl. He hates the cut. To bother him, Vinz asks Sayid to kiss him, to which Sayid tells him off.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Vinz tries to better himself and disassociate from the "heartless gangster" persona he's been adopting shortly before he's suddenly killed.
  • He's Got a Weapon!: Vinz makes quite an impression with the gun he found.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: In the end, a plainclothes officer's gun — which had been pointed flippantly at Vinz's head — goes off by accident, killing him instantly.
  • Imagine Spot: Vinz has several, including him dancing and seeing cows on the street. Another one involves two cops being Blown Across the Room.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Example 2 in the United States. It was promoted as Jodie Foster Presents Hate (the actress' praise of the film was responsible for Gramercy picking up the domestic rights).
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Vinz, after one of his Imagine Spots, trying to convince Saïd that there was a cow crossing the street.
  • Jerkass: Almost every character fits the trope, which causes more discomfort as it goes.
    • Even Hubert at times is like this. Although it might be justified in some cases, especially when Vinz makes him nervous.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As unlikable as Vinz can be, he's very loyal to his friends.
  • Mexican Standoff: The last scene where Hubert and the policeman are pointing guns at each other. At least one person dies.
  • Next Stall Shenanigans: The three main characters are on the run from the police and hide in a bathroom, where they make a phone call and squabble about Vinz's attempt to kill a police officer in the previous scene. An old Russian man emerges from a bathroom stall, having overheard everything, to tell them an allegorical anecdote about his experiences taking a dump in the Gulag. This leaves them all confused, though it has symbolic meaning for the film's larger themes.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: The central motif of the film, centering around a story about a man who falls from the top of a building, repeating "Jusqu'ici, tout va bien" ("So far, so good", or "Up to here, all goes well"), with the added note that the fall is meaningless except for its preceding the landing.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: To quote the "Fresh" trope, some of the villains in this movie are truly nasty human beings. And Vinz desires to give them nasty ends.
  • Police Brutality: A particularly brutal vicious-cycle relationship between the Paris police and a group of teenage thugs from the local banlieues. The police raid the deprived banlieues, the people who live there fight back, which means the police crack down harder on the area, which means the people start rioting... It eventually culminates in the police shooting an unarmed teenage boy, and one officer and the boy's best friend holding guns to each other's heads. And then the screen goes to black and a single gunshot is heard. End of film.
  • Random Events Plot: An unusually serious example. The whole film is about a group of friends hanging out and wandering around over the course of a day, while unrelated dramatic incidents keep happening to them and only come together at the very end.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Vinz thinks so, at first.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: It's this on the part of a cop that ends up killing Vinz.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The three guys can't make any sense of the old man's story about what happened to him on the way to Siberia.
  • Signs of Disrepair: In one scene, the guys see a poster saying "LE MONDE EST À VOUS" ("The world is yours"). One of them uses a spray can to overwrite the V with an N, changing the message to "LE MONDE EST À NOUS" ("The world is ours").
  • Silent Credits: The impact of the last scene is enhanced by having the end credits roll without a sound.
  • Sitting on the Roof: Sitting and barbecuing.
  • Title Drop: Hubert at one point says, "La haine attire la haine" ("Hate breeds hate").
  • Untranslated Title
  • Vertigo Effect: In a scene half-way through the movie, the three stand on a bridge or rooftop, and the street behind them goes through the Vertigo Effect.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Where did that Cow come from? Where did she go?
    • Arguably Rule of Symbolism: The police used to be referred to as 'les vaches' (cows) in France. So it's foreshadowing and a possible hallucination by Vinz — there are a number of unexplained instances of this, e.g. when he 'shoots' the police officer in the train station.
  • Wire Dilemma: After breaking into a car, the three have no idea how to short-circuit the starter. Cue the Police.
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: The movie follows three kids from the wrong side.
  • You Talkin' to Me?: Reenacted by Vinz.