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Adil El Arbi (2016)

93min
18 Certificate
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Review

Our Score
Cast on the same Belgian streets where it was filmed, this teen drama based on Dirk Bracke's same-titled novel feels like La Haine meets Girlhood with plenty of Boyz N the Hood attitude. Written and directed by film-school dropouts Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, this pitches the viewer into the no-go parts of Brussels with a kinetic chase following a purse snatch. But much worse is to come, as 15-year-old Martha Canga Antonio learns the harsh realities of being a female member of the Congolese "Black Bronx" gang. Her treatment after being caught colluding with Aboubakr Bensaihi from the Moroccan "1080s" crew is sickening and reinforces the sense of authenticity that El Arbi and Fallah bring to their discussion of race, crime, misogyny and marginalisation. They capture, too, the seething visual contrasts between the neighbourhoods, while the young leads balance swagger with affecting vulnerability. But the potency of this depiction, with its powder-keg tensions, starts with an unflinching approach behind the camera.

Summary

Mavela, a 15-year-old in Brussels gang The Black Bronx, must choose between love and loyalty when she falls for Marwan, a Moroccan boy from rival group the 1080s. Drama, starring Martha Canga Antonio, Aboubakr Bensaihi and Sanaa Alaoui.

Cast & Crew

Mavela Martha Canga Antonio
Marwan Aboubakr Bensaihi
X Emmanuel Tahon
Notorious Theo Kabéya
Justelle Natascha Boyamba
Angela Glodie Lombi
CMM Axel Massudi
Alonzo Brandon Massudi
Director Adil El Arbi
Director Bilall Fallah
Mavela Martha Canga Antonio
Marwan Aboubakr Bensaihi
X Emmanuel Tahon
Notorious Theo Kabéya
Justelle Natascha Boyamba
Angela Glodie Lombi
CMM Axel Massudi
Alonzo Brandon Massudi
Director Adil El Arbi
Director Bilall Fallah
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Other Information

Language: French, Dutch, Arabic, LingalaColourTheatrical distributor: VertigoReleased on: 19 Aug 2016
Arts