La Haine (March 9/96)
Mainstream Hollywood is just not capable of making a film like this. It is not "feel good," it does not contain likeable characters, but it is simply the best movie I have seen so far this year.
It follows one day in the lives of three street youths. These are not new characters. There is the young man who believes hate is the answer to everything, the one who is searching for a way out, and the one with all the "connections." And the storyline isn't terribly fresh, either. We follow our "heroes" as they get into trouble and attempt to figure out why their friend was beaten up by the police.
I have never heard of any of the three main actors, but each of them are just as deserving of an Oscar as any of the five contenders running this year. Vincent Cassel, the young man who portrays the angry Vinz, is a standout. In an early scene, he is shown impersonating Robert DeNiro's "you talking to me" speech from Taxi Driver. As the film progresses, this turns out to be a very accurate comparison. Cassel puts the same type of brooding energy into Vinz that DeNiro put into Travis Bickle.
Some mention must be made of the film's style, which is innovative and breathtaking. The film was directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, a 25-year-old who has already been involved with several other movies. La Haine was shot in black and white, and I think that was an excellent choice on the part of Kassovitz. It really adds to the grimy, street feel of the movie.
Like I said earlier, Hollywood would never make a film like this. It's not "commercial" enough. But quite simply, I do not expect to see a better movie all year.