This day in the life of three disenfranchised French youth of mixed origins – Jewish, Arabic and Black – exposed the banlieues the outer-city housing estates bordering Paris, to the the wider world.
Far from the block-buster sights of Paris this cult film showed another reality, of drugs, despair, and crazy teenage energy that too often leads to trouble. In addition to the controversial subject material of racism, social decay and police brutality, the film earned notoriety for its innovative use of music and exposed a whole generation of youth to French rap and hip-hop.
The film’s director Matthieu Kassovitz, never quite repeated this success though it launched the career of the electric Vincent Cassel, the only professional actor in the film. The other leads; Saïd Taghmaoui, of Moroccan heritage and Hubert Koundé, of Beninese origins; didn’t achieve the same levels of artistic success as their Franco-French colleague though Koundé played a key role in the acclaimed film, A Constant Gardener.
If you’re interested to know more about the sociological significance of the film, both then and now, check out this punchy article on the Criterion website.