Directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah (of last year’s Image) are back in black with ‘Black’, their second major motion picture. This Belgian movie wowed the crowd in Toronto, has been picked up for distribution and will be remade in the United States (overseen by its original creators).
‘Black’ tells the story of an unlikely meeting between two strangers from opposite crowds. Marwan (Aboubakr Bensaihi), a Moroccan boy that skips school and steals ladies’ purses, takes a shine to Mavela (Martha Canga Antonio), a girl with African roots. Both youngsters are members of rivaling gangs. Although realising they are endangering their love, future and themselves, their love seems strong enough to overcome all obstacles.
The seedy underbelly of Brussels (the capital of Belgium, and of the European Union) has a starring role in ‘Black’. Violence and a bleak outlook on life are everyday ingredients. Loss and betrayal dominate the screenplay, yet careful hope lurks in the background. El Arbi and Fallah have matured as directors, although ‘Image’ was no slouch in the directorial department. Once again, they show their masterful craftsmanship with excellent vistas, beautiful frames and impressive takes. The pumping beats, the noisy rhythms, and the effective edits all come together in a melange of ethnic intricacies.
The cast is equally phenomenal. Martha Canga Antonio steals every scene, without any prior acting experience. Her Mavela is beautiful, street-smart and wise beyond her years. Needless to say, a bright future lies ahead for Antonio: she won Best Actress on the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn, Estonia, and has been nominated for a European Shooting Star Award in Berlin, Germany. Take note, American casting directors. You need this girl in your next movie. She speaks 5 languages, and all fluently. Akoubakr Bensaihi is just as good, and portrays Marwan with the correct amount of gusto and youthful delinquency.
‘Black’ is an excellent movie, made by two humble guys at the top of their game. Hollywood has already discovered them. Jerry Bruckheimer is currently courting them, and they were at one point considered for the ‘Furious 8’ gig. Discover ‘Black’, coming soon to a cinema near you.