Retro Film Reviews: Cafe au Lait and Hate

In light of the recent riots in France, the realities of race relations comes out behind “the myth of republican equality." The worst social turmoil France has seen since the student-led unrest of 1968, more than 6,000 vehicles have been set alight in nearly 300 towns; over 1,500 people have been arrested; one man has died. After an emergency cabinet meeting last week, Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin declared a state of emergency, invoking a 1955 law that allows a curfew to be imposed in troubled areas and which—with unfortunate symbolism—dates from the war in Algeria. The idea of multiculturalism has failed in France.

A few years ago Jewish-French filmmaker Mathieu Kassovitz made two films that addressed the problems of race in France.

Originally titled La Haine, the film concerns three young men - an Arab, a Jew and a black - who decided to take on the police after a friend is brutally injured. Said, Vinz, and Hubert, respectfully, try to make sense of their social environment. The impulsive Vinz, performed by Vincent Cassel, acts tough as he knows that he has a gun that he found after a police officer had accidentally lost it in the riots. Said is the follower who glorifies the violence and strives to be respected as he has a twisted view of what respect is. Hubert dreams of getting out of the ghetto as he does not glorify the violence within the ghetto while his two friends do. The audience follows these three characters throughout a full day as they are sitting around, getting into trouble, and learning through their errors. Kassovitz creates an authentic and explosive atmosphere which becomes the grounds for an exhaustive examination of the socioeconomic milieu of young adults in a poor Parisian ghetto. In the end, Kassovitz succeeds in developing an excellent persuasive and disturbing cinematic experience.

Cafe Au Lait
This is such a interesting movie because it takes a different look at romantic and racial relationships today in contemporary Europe. This movie is about a young woman named Lola of mixed racial heritage (her mother is from Martinique and that's all we know for sure) who has been sexually involved with two men whom she "loves". She becomes pregnant and brings both men together for the first time to hear the news in person. She informs them that she doesn't know which of them is the baby's father but that she intends to have her child regardless. The men in question are Felix, a poor white Jewish guy who loves rap music and Jamal, the Muslim black African son of a wealthy diplomat. Both men vie for Lola's affections and fight with one another, getting into racially-motivated disputes over which of them should be allowed to care for mother and child, and argue about who the real father is. Kassovitz doesn't try to be politically correct and talks straightforward about the realities of racism. The movie is well scripted and directed. It is also good that Kassovitz trys to show the diverse opinions about interracial dating; Europeans are not as accepting to these types of relationships as a lot of people think. An interesting movie about interesting people!


Post a Comment

<< Home