DOXA 2019 review: Gods of Molenbeek


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      Six-year-old best friends Amine and Aatos wander through Belgium’s poverty-afflicted Molenbeek district in this crisp and absorbing doc from Reetta Huhtanen.

      They dress like superheroes and mummies, play soccer, ponder the nature of black holes, and, rather delightfully, talk, talk, and then talk some more. They also encounter security forces and demonstrations against ISIS in a district made notorious by the media as a den of extremism.

      This child’s-eye view of the world has the ring of truth, even as your mind races with questions about the artifice on display, especially given Aatos’s recurrent questions to his Muslim friend about God.

      The film’s heart is in the right place, but this one contrivance feels like a small betrayal of trust when everything else here celebrates the sheer guilelessness of its splendid little subjects.