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The film still carries the same flaws that the very first film of Belgian duo Adil & Bilall displayed, only on a bigger budget.

Belgian directing duo Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah like to paint themselves as rebels, which to a certain extent they are.

In their short career they have definitely shown that having Hollywood ambition from the get-go can pay off. Unfortunately that hasn't resulted in any good movies yet, and Rebel - which Adil & Bilall say is their most personal project - goes a long way in showing why that may never happen. The film still carries the same flaws that their debut Image displayed after all, only on a bigger budget.

This story about a Belgian ISIS fighter is thematically muddled, falls narratively flat and relies on obvious, nuance-free cinematic tricks to keep the viewer from dozing off. The editing is a particular eyesore this time, as the story seemingly haphazardly juggles timelines and perspectives, but equally annoying is the at times hilarious naivety on display, most laughably in the relationship between the lead jihadist and the wife his comrades bought for him on a slave market.

So while Adil & Bilall may flaunt their flair, they have a long way to go to convince me they have any substance.

release: 2022

director: Adil El Arbi, Bilall Fallah

starring: Aboubakr Bensaïhi, Lubna Azabal, Amir El Arbi


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