An inevitably sombre documentary about the aftermath of a homophobic murder, ‘Beyond Hatred’ also exemplifies the finest French traditions of dignified rationalism in the pursuit of understanding – in both personal and judicial contexts. In Reims, on September 13, 2002, 29-year-old François Chenu was beaten and left to drown by a group of skinheads who had failed to find an Arab to assault. Confident in his sexuality and not easily intimidated, it seems credible that Chenu’s self-assurance inflamed his attackers’ rage. Meyrou’s quiet, elegant, humbling film is structured around the trial and sentencing of the killers, highlighting some of the benefits of the inquisitorial (as opposed to adversarial) approach of the French court; the patient, systematic accretion of evidence is mirrored by the Chenu family’s valiant, humanising attempts to understand and process the atrocity visited on them. Legal professionals and relatives of the defendants are also interviewed, resulting in a rounded, generous, wise perspective – the very opposite of the hateful red mist that ended Chenu’s life.
Friday March 30 2007