It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Mathieu Kassovitz is a 29-year-old French director who in his first two films has probed the wound of alienation among France's young outsiders. His new film “Hate” tells the story of three young men--an Arab, an African and a Jew--who spend an aimless day in a sterile Paris suburb, as social turmoil swirls around them and they eventually get into a confrontation with the police.
If France is the man falling off the building, they are the sidewalk.
In Kassovitz's first film, “Cafe au Lait” (1994), he told the story of a young woman from the Caribbean who summons her two boyfriends--one African, one Jewish--to announce that she is pregnant. That film, inspired by Spike Lee's “She's Gotta Have It,” was more of a comedy, but with “Hate,” also about characters who are not ethnically French, he has painted a much darker vision.
In America, where for all of our problems, we are long accustomed to being a melting pot, it is hard to realize how monolithic most European nations have been--especially France, where Frenchness is almost a cult, and a political leader like Jean-Marie Le Pen can roll up alarming vote totals with his anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant diatribes. The French neo-Nazi right wing lurks in the shadows of “Hate,” providing it with an unspoken subtext for its French audiences. (Imagine how a moviegoer from Mars would misread a film like “Driving Miss Daisy” if he knew nothing about Southern segregation.) The three heroes of “Hate” are Vinz (Vincent Cassel), Jewish, working class; Hubert (Hubert Kounde), from Africa, a boxer, more mature than his friends, and Said (Said Taghmaoui), from North Africa, more lighthearted than his friends. That they hang out with one another reflects the fact that in France, friendships are as likely to be based on class as race.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
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