REVIEW: Black Box at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021

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Black Box is a film showing at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021 (AFFFF 2021) and one of 4 films which are having their debut screenings in Australia. COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions around the world mean that Australia is getting to see Black Box and three other films at the AFFFF 2021 before they are even screened in their native France!

Black Box

Black Box is the story of a talented black box analyst Mathieu played by Pierre Niney and his quest to get to the bottom of what caused a horrifying plane crash that killed all 300 passengers on board.


The film is written and directed by Yann Gozlan and marks the second time the two have worked together – the other time being on A Perfect Man which screened at AFFFF 2016.

Lou de Laâge plays Mathieu’s wife Noémie, and someone who is also familiar with the aviation world – herself working for the company that made the plane which has crashed.


When Mathieu’s boss Victor Pollock goes missing shortly after the crash, Mathieu finds himself investigating the disappearance as well as the crash. A mysterious black car keeps following Mathieu. Is his persistence going to put his own life at risk?


There are similarities between Mathieu in Black Box and officer Chanteraide played by Francois Civil in The Wolf’s Call (Le Chant du loup) – a film which was programmed for the March AFFFF 2020 but dropped from the July reincarnation as it was already on Netflix by then. In it, Chanteraide is known as the golden ear in his role listening to sounds underwater on a French nuclear submarine. Both characters are the most talented in their field and seemingly questioned at times as to whether their analysis is correct.


While the film was well-acted, I couldn’t help but find it implausible at times. Take for example, his superhuman hearing – on one level anyone could hear things if sounds were distorted and manipulated to such a level as Mathieu does in the film – remember when it was fashionable to play records backwards and say that the artists were devil worshippers? Also, a bit far-fetched is the fact that the police didn’t seem to investigate his missing boss at all. Apart from their mention once, there is no indication they have actually been to Victor’s office or house. Towards the end it bordered slightly on the fanciful (I won’t say how otherwise it will give parts of the film away).


With a running time of 130 minutes, Black Box also felt drawn-out. Some tighter editing could have taken this film to a more reasonable running time under 2 hours.


Overall Black Box is a film with a promising storyline that sadly fails to deliver despite being well-acted.





Black Box is showing at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021. You can view the full program for the AFFFF 2021 here:


A COVID-safe festival

The strictest COVID protocols will be respected in each city, including social distancing, sanitising and circulation of clean air, to ensure a safe cinema experience.


Festival dates

The Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021 screens in the following cities on the following dates:



23 March to 20 April

Encore: 21 to 22 April



17 March to 13 April

Encore: 14 & 15 April



24 March to 14 April 2021

Encore: 15 & 16 April



4 March to 31 March

Encore: 1 to 5 April



11 March to 20 March 2021



3 March to 31 March

Encore: 1 to 5 April



8 April to 11 April 2021



10 March to 7 April

Encore: 8 to 11 April



2 March to 31 March

Encore: 1 to 5 April


For more reviews of films showing at the AFFFF 2021, see the links below:

REVIEW: Miss at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021

REVIEW: Bye Bye Morons at the Alliance Française French Film Festival 2021



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