- 1h 35min
When Mavela, member of the notorious youth gang Black Bronx, falls madly in love with a boy from a rival gang, she is forced to make a choice between loyalty and love. A choice that will hav... Read allWhen Mavela, member of the notorious youth gang Black Bronx, falls madly in love with a boy from a rival gang, she is forced to make a choice between loyalty and love. A choice that will have dramatic consequences.When Mavela, member of the notorious youth gang Black Bronx, falls madly in love with a boy from a rival gang, she is forced to make a choice between loyalty and love. A choice that will have dramatic consequences.
'Black' is set in Brussels, where territories are divided between Moroccan street gangs and rival gangs of black Africans. When Moroccan teenager Marwan is waiting in the police station after having been arrested for theft, he meets the pretty African girl Mavela, who is caught for the same reason. They exchange telephone numbers, and start an affair. Because they are members of different gangs, this is enough reason for an exchange of violent attacks by the gangs. Several girls are gang raped or forced to participate in holdups, the boys organize gang fights.
The film is very fast-paced and dynamic, capturing the inner city gang life with dark, sinister images and impressive establishing shots, making Brussels look like an urban jungle not much different from the Bronx or Compton.
But beneath this succession of beautiful shots, there is not much substance. The screenplay doesn't contain much suspense because everyone knows the Romeo and Juliet storyline. The dialogue consists mostly of four letter words. The characters are mostly one-dimensional. All white cops are sadistic racists, all black men are heartless macho's, all girls are sexy and submissive. The film makers miss the opportunity to develop interesting characters, like Mina, a policewoman of Moroccan descent. We never learn how she copes with being hated by members of her own ethnic group.
In view of the Paris attacks of November 13th, the film has an interesting extra dimension. The Moroccan street gang is named '1080', which is the zip code for Molenbeek, the quarter in Brussels where the atrocities were being prepared and planned. You can't help but think that Marwan could just as well have been one of the attackers.
Another interesting thing are the subtle references to Belgian linguistic squabbles. From time to time, Marwan and Mavela switch from French to Dutch, but purely in a mocking way. They hate the Flemish policemen who address them in Dutch, and when Marwan tells his imprisoned brother that he wants to start a legitimate garage business, he is accused of being 'Flemish'. Knowing that both directors are from Flanders, this is a nice pun.
- Nov 26, 2015