So far, so good, so far, so good…Getintothis’ Matthew Eland feels the hate on Regent Street with Asian Dub Foundation and a modern classic.
It’s hard to believe that La Haine is 23 years old.
The film concerns three friends – one black, one Jewish, and one Arab Maghrebi – who find a policeman’s gun the morning after a riot. The most unhinged of the three, played by Vincent Cassel, vows to avenge their friend, who is critically ill in hospital, by killing a police officer.
His polar opposite, played by Hubert Koundé, yearns to escape the projects and spends the film trying to convince his friend of the futility of this act of revenge. The trio is rounded off by Saïd Taghmaoui, who accompanies them on a calamitous and sometimes surreal trip into suburban Paris.
It’s a film that resonates just as strongly today as it did when it was first released in 1995. Aside from the political elements are the set pieces and moments of pure cinematic invention: the cow wandering through the council estate, the Wellesian journey through Vincent Cassel‘s mirror, and the extinguishing of the lights on the Eiffel Tower. Everything in the film comes together; it showcases that elusive mixture of right time, right place. The monochrome photography only adds to the devastating and timeless quality.
The film certainly resonates; Asian Dub Foundation have been playing their version of the soundtrack since 2001. David Bowie picked this for his South Bank Meltdown festival, and Secret Cinema hosted it on the Broadwater Farm estate following the London riots in 2011. And now, one year after Grenfell, with the themes of the movie more topical than ever, ADF have taken it back on the road.
However, anyone expecting the full ADF dub-punk-ragga set-up stands to be disappointed; the group have been pared down to a trio for the evening’s performance. They are helped by the film being subtitled, which means that none of the instrumentation should mask the dialogue. As such, they don’t really tend to synchronise their music with the script, favouring general ambience over a strict soundtrack with beats to hit. This means that they don’t really add much to the film; the best that can be said is that it never adversely intrudes at any point.
It’s only after the film’s denouement that ADF get to flex their musical muscles. They’re joined for their Core4 set by Nathan “Flutebox” Lee, whose party trick is beatboxing and playing his eponymous wind instrument at the same time. It is astonishing, a virtuoso representation of a unique sub-genre we might have remained ignorant to, had we neglected to head down Regent Road this Friday night.
The rest of the set is a perfectly skankable dub-fest, with more nifty flute playing and guitar-pedal trickery, but in truth it all suffers in the shadow of La Haine; a film so prescient and topical that director Mathieu Kassovitz is considering a sequel. On tonight’s evidence, the original looks as though it’ll stand up for a long time yet.
Images by Keith Ainsworth