A modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet set in the context of Brussels’ dark gangland; Black is a powerful and harrowing insight into the dungeons of European youth and gangland violence. After an unlikely meeting in the police station, star-crossed lovers Marvela (Martha Canga Antonio) and Marwan (Aboubbakr Benaihi) are forced apart as gang loyalty and duty take hold. As their gang affiliations become deeper the stakes rise until the final moment where their once separate lives collide.
Never shying away from the truth and brutality of the situation, Black is both beautiful and disturbing. Our two protagonists, although not likable at first, are soon entwined with the viewer and its hard not get behind the characters. Marvela in particular is hard not to feel a connection with, as she goes from insubordinate teen to victim with such poignancy that it would be difficult not to shed a tear. As Marvela realises both her mistakes and the number of lives she’s helped destroy, Martha Canga Antonio gives the performance of her life when it becomes her turn to take the fall. As I said before, with intensely violent scenes, without fear, Black gives us an open display of sexual violence that very few films choose to tackle. What could be a tricky subject, Black does this incredibly well.
It displays the horror of the events disturbing nature freely, but by focusing on the pain of the victim instead of the mind of the perpetrator Black is a brilliant commentary on the deepest problems in the poorest areas in Europe and how difficult it can be to oppose them.
The skill of writers and directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah in providing a flawless commentary is without question and so is the performance of Antonio who’s journey is unbelievably real. Yet, the most amazing part of Black is just how great a film it is overall. Everything about this film is fantastic and I was tempted to watch it again immediately after it concluded. Despite the increasing number of Romeo and Juliet-esque tales in existence Black manages to bring something different to the fray and creates a fantastic film that anyone and everyone should view.
BLACK is released in UK cinemas & on VOD from Friday 19th August and you should DEFINITELY watch it!
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