ADiff review: Black, a tale of star-crossed lovers in violent Brussels

A rivalry between African gangs turns brutal in this adaptation of gritty youth novels

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Director: Adil El Arb, Bilall Fallah
Cert: Club
Genre: Crime
Starring: Sanaa Alaoui
Running Time: 1 hr 35 mins

Light House 1, Friday 19th, 4pm, 95 min

Rebellious 15-year-old Mavela (Martha Canga Antonio) has been tearing around Brussels with her cousin's Congolese street gang, the Black Bronx, a posse who pass girl members around as sexual playthings.

Mavela’s familial connection has made her an exception, but when the gang learn that she has fallen for Marwan (Aboubakr Bensaihi), from rival Moroccan crew the 1080s, her punishment is as horrifically violent as anything you will see on screen this year.

To complicate matters, Mavela is used to lure the girlfriend of Marwan's kingpin brother into the Black Bronx's lair. Weapons are brandished. Stop me if you've heard this one before: Romeo and Juliet set among contemporary street gangs.


Working from two gritty young adult novels by Flemish author Dirk Bracke, codirectors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah reinvent Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers. Black is energetic, visceral and savagely topical.

Can't see this? See the compelling doc B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin 1979-1989. Light House 3, 4pm

Tara Brady

Tara Brady

Tara Brady, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a writer and film critic