Rafael Jovine’s review published on Letterboxd:
Well, on with another review for a film I've been meaning to watch for so long. Perhaps one of the most hype French movies of the past decade, a feature that feels so revelant today.
Where do I begin? I mean, how about the camera work in here? Jeez! I mean, the way every flows and move in here could only be compared to those dances in the Step Up movie. The cinematography and the way Mathieu Kassovitz utilizes the camera probably captures the whole mentality of the "French New Wave" to high levels than even those like Truffaut or Goddard did back in the days. The camera movements not only serves as an aesthetic device, but also to draw out the emotions of these characters. They are hyperactive, aggresive beings and so I think having a static camera would almost being a mistake. Also the use of lighting is simply fantastic, sometimes even touching into classic horror and the film noir.
In terms of performances, they are all brilliant. I was checking on the cast and the fact everyones uses their first name for the character, almost got me thinking whether they draw inspiration from their own selves. How much of this was acting and how much of this was then venting their hate (pun intended)?
I always felt attracted to Cassel as an actor, and from what I've seen so far, this is just peak. The whole mirror scene, with the camera work, I mean, De Niro is iconic, but I think Vincent is a close cigar. His character is the least likeable, but still you can't help but to feel fascinated. And that ending, talking about irony? Said was my least favorite, dunno, he almost seen like the filler of the group, almost like a device. But he was good. On the other hand, Hubert from the get-go its clear this is the one you should love, and I found fascinating that out of the white (Jew I believe?) and Muslim (this is before the whole 9/11 and massive bombing attacks), its the black guy they choose to display most of the humanity. It seems almost like a clap back to the notion ALL poor people of color are gangsters and that's all what they got in their lives. Here Hubert was the kid with all the big hopes in life, which then of course makes for a much striking ending.
All in all, I could go and on why this movie is great, but simply put, out of all the movies that I've seen that deals with racism, this is just top gear. And definitely the best to not have the title card "A Spike Lee joint" in it.