Despite the fact it occasionally uses stereotypes, Hassan Benjelloun’s “The Black Room” reps an involving look at the harsh political climate that grasped Morocco in the mid-1970s. Inspired by a true story (author Jaouad Mdidech’s mother appears at the end), pic traces the nightmarish journey of a young man after he is abducted by the police and subsequently imprisoned in Casablanca’s most notorious jail. Somewhat similar in theme to recent “Jawhara, Jail Girl,” pic’s takers will mostly be human rights fests and those looking for North African flavor.
Airline workers Kamal (Mohamed Nadif) and Najat (Hanane Ibrahimi) are in the throes of romance when he’s picked up by the security police and hauled away without explanation. Seems he dabbled in left-wing politics as a student, and, in a harsh crackdown on presumed extremists, one of his old colleagues fingers him under torture. Kamal’s former friend and Najat’s brother Taoufik (Abdel Malek Akhmis) is one of the interrogators, but he claims ignorance when Najat pleads for information. The pic’s low budget shows in the murky prison scenes, and jazzy score can be jarring, given the material.