Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Simoni is good and directing team Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, whose previous work looked quite different, effectively demonstrate that they can master this style."

Adamo ( Matteo Simoni) wants to be a gangster. His idea of what this means stems largely from the movies, and from the sight of local mob boss Orlando (Werner Kolf) driving down the street in a fancy car with a glamorous girlfriend. He has a bit of an in, in that he sometimes helps out with the family hash-dealing business, but that's on a very different level. When, one day, the chance to work for Orlando emerges, he leaps on it, and he quickly gets his friends involved too - including the fiercely independent Badia (Nora Gharib), who rebels against the notion that just because she's female, criminality is not for her.

Like a lot of young people who are high on ambition but low on clue, the group quickly decide that they can do all this better than it's being done already. Why not undercut the prices of the local dealers and take over the market? This development in approached with such enthusiasm that younger viewers may well find themselves swept along with it the way our heroes are, not stopping to consider that if it were really that good an idea, everyone would be trying it. Sure, things go well at first, and Adamo gets a taste of the glamour he has always wanted as he goes on a jaunt overseas, but sooner or later there will be a price to pay.

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Presented in that now-familiar 'Are you wondering how I found myself in this wacky situation?' flashback style, the film is all about snappy narration, high energy action and flashy direction. This captures that youthful perspective very effectively but there's not much going on beneath the surface. The pulsing soundtrack and vivid imagery keep it rattling along and it makes for an entertaining evening's viewing, but only a handful of scenes have sufficient depth to be memorable.

If you're not overly concerned about substance, you may well enjoy the style, with its video game aesthetics and its use of the seven deadly sins to provide structure. Characters are presented in playful wuxia style, initially introduced as children so that we can see how, looking back, they now recognise how naive they were then - just as Adamo now has a clearer perspective on their more recent adventures. There's a nicely structured ending that plays with expectations generated by the format. Simoni is good and directing team Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah, whose previous work looked quite different, effectively demonstrate that they can master this style. It's a good calling card for the three of them and one hopes it will lead to better opportunities - but, preferably, ones with a bit more going on to make the audience care.

Reviewed on: 17 Oct 2018
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A group of friends living in Antwerp decide that they want to rise to the top of the city's cocaine business.

Director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

Writer: Nabil Ben Yadir, Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah, Bram Renders, Kobe Van Steenberghe, Hendrik Verthé

Starring: Paloma Aguilera Valdebenito, Eduardo Almeida, Ali B., Gene Bervoets, François Beukelaers, Said Boumazoughe, Eric Corton, Axel Daeseleire, Vic de Wachter, Aza Declercq, Younes El Yakhloufi, Abdel Malik Farhouni, Noureddine Farihi, Hef Frans, Nora Gharib

Year: 2018

Runtime: 125 minutes

Country: Belgium


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