La Haine Starring: Vincent Cassel, Hubert Kounde, Said Taghmaoui Director: Mathieu Kassovitz One of the more highly praised French films of the 1990s, Mathieu Kassovitz's La Haine (Hate) tracks a day in the lives of three residents of a low-income banlieue immigrant district on the outskirts of Paris. It's the morning after a race riot (of the kind seen nationwide in 2005) and their friend, a young French Arab, is in hospital fighting for his life with a police gunshot wound. The three protagonists - a black, an Arab and, surprisingly, a white Jew - wander the neighbourhood discussing the night before as they pick through its debris, and find a police gun. With revenge in mind, they head to central Paris where they are arrested, and where the film's ending plays out to a dramatic but ambiguous conclusion. These three friends represent the so-called racaille, or scum, as presidential hopeful Nicolas Sarkozy's called them in 2005. Although not an apologist film for the poorer immigrant class, it does focus on police brutality. The story was inspired by the real-life shooting of a handcuffed African in police custody in 1993. At the Cannes Film Festival, where Kassovitz won best director award, police guarding the auditorium turned their backs on the cast and crew. La Haine is slick, perhaps too slick for its own good at times, and the American influences on Kassovitz's filmmaking come thick and fast. Shot in black-and-white, the restless camerawork moves through several styles, skirting the fringes of showiness occasionally, but for the most part maintaining the film's edgy, urban mood. The acting is perhaps the film's strongest point, especially Vincent Cassel (Ocean's Twelve, Shrek, below) as the seething Jewish boy with revenge on his mind and a pistol in his pocket. Kassovitz took a fair amount of stick from many quarters for being a well-educated, middle-class outside observer, with no experience in a banlieue, but the authenticity of his dedication to the cause, at least, can't be easily dismissed. The commentary track he provides for this new Criterion release is his fourth, and his convictions - and his well-publicised contempt for Sarkozy - are as strong as ever. The extras: Disc One contains the film, with Kassovitz's engaging English-language commentary, trailers, and a rather unnecessary video introduction by Jodie Foster, whose company distributed the film in the US. The second disc is packed with supplements, the longest and most worthwhile of which is an 85-minute documentary entitled Ten Years of La Haine, which features cast and crew looking back at the film's production and legacy. Social Dynamite is a 30-minute series of interviews in which three sociologists discuss France's immigration problem. This is followed up with 10 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage.