In September 2002, three skinheads were roaming a park in Rheims, France, looking to "do an Arab," when they settled for a gay man instead. Twenty-nine-year-old François Chenu fought back fiercely, but he was beaten unconscious and thrown into a river, where he drowned. The acclaimed French vérité film Beyond Hatred is the story of the crime's aftermath; above all, of the Chenu family's brave and heartrending struggle to seek justice while trying to make sense of such pointless violence and unbearable loss. With remarkable dignity, they fight to transcend hatred and the inevitable desire for revenge.
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From Variety's review by Leslie Felperin:
"Point of the film is not to explore the homophobic attack itself, but its aftermath. Core arc concerns Chenu family's feelings as they evolve from anger and despair toward an almost saintly recognition of how the killers' own deprived backgrounds led them to this horrible act. The father of one of the killers, an alcoholic who tried to destroy evidence, and another attacker's aunt, are also interviewed and treated with the same even-handed sympathy by the filmmakers. Viewers expecting daytime-TV style histrionics from such emotive material will be struck by the quiet, contained dignity of Chenu's family, none of whom ever raises his or her voice."
Viewers expecting daytime-TV style histrionics from such emotive material will be struck by the quiet, contained dignity of Chenu's family, none of whom ever raises his or her voice."