Director: Mathieu Kassovitz
Year Released: 1995
It's easy to see what I liked so much about this in 1995: style in abundance, stunning black and white photography, a sympathetic view towards the disenfranchised. But that was when I was still in high school, and time changes personal perspective (sometimes): there's a little too much style (as opposed to that elusive 'substance') and the anti-authority slant doesn't have enough shades of grey - yes, the police can abuse authority, but the 'citizens' aren't exactly innocent either (in fact, they're highly suspicious). Despite reservations, I can't dismiss its angst outright, and at least Kassovitz doesn't hide his debt to cinema - or pretend his characters aren't aware of the medium - as he references Spike Lee, Taxi Driver, Buñuel, Godard and Reservoir Dogs. Vincent Cassel's character, with a shaved head and goblin's stare, is as chilling a portrait of hostile, unrepentant youth as there's ever been in the movies, close in spirit to Edward Norton's neo-Nazi in American History X.