Hate (Mathieu Kassovitz)

Rating: ***1/2 (out of ****)

A blistering, hyperactive dervish of a movie, Hate (which I saw at last year's New York Film Festival under its original title, La haine) has more kinetic energy than any film you're likely to see this year; if the only French films you've seen lately are introspective coming-of-age stories and gaudy costume dramas, it may come as something of a shock. Kassovitz won Cannes' Best Director prize last year for his work on this film (which he also wrote and in which he briefly appears), and it's isn't hard to see why -- it's the kind of cinematic frontal assault that inevitably calls attention to its own technique, replete with jump cuts, speedy zooms, daring choices. However, unlike, say, Phil Joanou's empty exercises in style, Hate's pyrotechnics and gyrations actually serve the story, thrusting us into the dizzying, relentlessly angry world of its three young, relentlessly angry protagonists. Excellent performances, gritty black-and-white photography, and remarkable focus combine to make this the year's first triumph.