Upon doing some personal research by questioning random people around the city, Max discovers that his nemesis Abdel is a married father and decides to confront Abdel about this fact, stating, “I’ve been asking around. You’ve got a wife and child in Morocco yet you’re living it up here…With Alice. You and Alice, I don’t think much of that.” Needless to say, Abdel is not too happy when Max reminds him of the fact he has a family back home, as he is now living the ultimate third world dream of living a first world lifestyle that involves premium Europid pussy. On top of that, Max begins openly referring to Abdel as “wog” and “Mustafa,” so naturally the Arab decides to give up on pretending to befriend the protagonist and instead begins acting all moody and broody. Ultimately, Max picks up Alice, Abdel, and Louie in a Jaguar that he has just stolen and they head to Ronquières Inclined Plane in the Walloon municipality of Ittre for a scenic day trip where everything goes wrong and them some as the protagonist’s pathological jealousy, rage, and paranoia reaches murderous proportions. Demonstrating some slight schizophrenic qualities that are quite fitting in a nation that is divided by both language and culture, Max is depicted at one point in the film complaining to Alice in regard to people in general, “I want them all to leave me alone. To stop staring at me on the street and to shut up on the radio. So that I can be myself.” While she curiously only adds to his rage by leading him on and fueling his jealousy, Alice is absolutely convinced that Max will eventually explode as indicated by her remark to Abdel in regard to the protagonist, “I think he’s very unhappy. His problem is that he doesn’t say anything. One day it’ll come out and then we’ll be surprised.” Upon arriving in Ittre, Max gets so enraged while taking a photo of Alice and Abdel that he smashes Louie’s prized camera and then runs away. Not long after, Max emotionally manipulates Alice by pretending he is dead just because he wants to see her reaction. When the four head to a tourist site, a tour guide asks their nationality and Max responds, “Three Flemings and an Arab,” though he jokes that he is “...the Arab.” Of course, the fleeting moments of comic relief pretty much ends there.
At one point during their day trip, Max forces Alice to get into his car so they can “talk” and then demands that she tells him whether or not she believes in capital punishment. Needless to say, Max is fairly agitated by Alice’s stubborn apathy when it comes to answering his questions, though he eventually gets her to state regarding capital punishment that she believes, “In some circumstances, yes. If it happened in cold blood, yes.” When Max asks her what she thinks, “If a madman murdered a madwoman. Or another madman,” Alice naturally begins to become somewhat unsettled as she realize that the protagonist is trying to hint to something her. Meanwhile, Abdel becomes increasingly agitated and states to Louie regarding Max, “I should’ve punched him in the face right away. He’s going too far. They deal with it differently in Morocco.” Clearly, Abdel is quite jealous of Max as he does not want him stealing his precious white whore from him. When Alice subsequently gets out of Max’s car and tells Abdel that she is no longer interested in being the concubine of a gutter sheik, the lovelorn towelhead becomes enraged and states to her, “It’s because of Max you don’t want me anymore.” Not surprisingly, when Abdel demands that Alice tell him what Max had said about him earlier that day and she states, “He said he wasn’t jealous [of] a wog,” the angry Arab slaps her so hard that she falls to the ground. Naturally, Max is not going to tolerate some swarthy wog hitting the woman he is starting to fall in love with, so he gets out of his Jaguar and starts effortlessly beating the shit out of Abdel while Louie holds Alice back. Of course, being a man with a less than sound of mind that is involved in a heated brawl with his untermensch romantic rival, Max ultimately opts to brutally murder Abdel by simply picking him up and swiftly throwing him over the railing from what is no less than a three-story drop. While Louie attempts to get Alice to lie to the cops about Max's actions by stating, “Wipe your eyes before you see the commissioner […] It was an accident. He didn’t mean it. He wasn’t himself,” she is an erratic woman that feels guilty about her coffee-colored fuckboy’s violent death and decides to tell the police everything, stating to a detective in regard to Max, “No, it wasn’t an accident. I am sure of that. I know him too well for that. I know what he is capable of.” When the cop questions how she can know Max so well if she only just met him a couple days before, Alice defends her position by stating, “A lot has happened since Thursday. And I’ve talked to him a lot. About everything. About life…About death…About everything.” Ultimately it is revealed that Abdel is not the first person that Max killed, hence what incited him to attempt suicide at the beginning of the film.
After Brussels by Night became a cult hit that somewhat revolutionized Belgian cinema in terms of its brutal content and fairly nihilistic ‘messge’ (or lack thereof), auteur Marc Didden subsequently had the opportunity to direct what was his closest thing to a mainstream international film production. Indeed, Istanbul (1985) is notable for starring eccentric Hollywood actor Brad Dourif (One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Dune) as a deranged pedophiliac drifter who accidentally ends up in Belgian where he hooks up with a cynical loser portrayed by Crazy Love director Dominique Deruddere and ultimately goes on a road trip that involves attempting to get enough money to travel the titular Turkish city by agreeing to kidnap the fairly young daughter of a distraught father played François Beukelaers whose wife left him for a shady young Italian restaurant owner. While Didden's second feature is certainly worth checking out, it unfortunately oftentimes feels rather contrived, overly goofy, and quite Hollywood-esque, and of course ultimately lacks the uncompromisingly visceral and nihilistic essence of his decidedly dejecting yet nonetheless endlessly enthralling debut. Aside from Istanbul, Didden also worked on a freeform stage adaptation of Jean-Luc Goard’s Pierrot le Fou (1965) entitled Re-Make/Re-Model (1983) that was directed by Brussels by Night lead François Beukelaers, thus reflecting the somewhat unconventional working relationship between the auteur and actor. Of course, Beukelaers is just as much responsible for the film’s potency as Didden, whose performance is just as an imperative ingredient to Brussels by Night as that of Marlon Brando in László Benedek’s The Wild One (1953), Robert De Niro in Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980), and Christoph Waltz in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds (2009), among countless other examples. It should be noted that idiosyncratic artistic collaborations are somewhat of a tradition in Belgian cinema as is perfectly demonstrated by a classic flick like Meeuwen sterven in de haven (1955) aka Seagulls Die in the Harbour, which was co-written and co-directed by a film critic (Roland Verhavert), a writer (Ivo Michiels) and an amateur filmmaker (Rik Kuypers) and which is sort of like a 1950s Brussels by Night as a bilingual Flemish flick of the fiercely forlorn noir-ish sort about a lonely fellow in a trench-coat who finds temporary solace in the form of misfits and equally internally wounded women.
A work that somehow manages to combine the haunting the nightlife paintings of Belgian surrealist Paul Delvaux and films of his namesake André Delvaux with a (post)punk spirit that is comparable to the cinematic works of No Wave filmmakers like Amos Poe and Vivienne Dick while also attempting to be accessible to mainstream viewers, Brussels by Night was fittingly dedicated to two famous figures that died under dubious deaths, including French-speaking pop journalist Bert Bertrand (who committed suicide in 1983 while staying in NYC) and tragic Hollywood star Natalie Wood (whose two-time husband Robert Wagner was suspected of playing a role in her somewhat bizarre drowning). Not surprisingly, in the doc The Brussels by Night Archives, Didden’s ex-boss Guy Mortier, who was the editor-in-chief of HUMO magazine, would describe the antihero of the film being somewhat like the filmmaker, stating, “People have speculated about to what extent the main character Max is Marc Didden. It’s certainly an aspect of Marc. The Marc Didden who wants to hit all those he detests and who wants to destroy everything. But there is also a very different Marc Didden. Someone who also wants to hit everyone and destroy everything.” Featuring grating Belgian covers of popular American pop songs like “Piece of My Heart” and a malignantly somber Brussels where beauteous blondes become sullen spinsters and miscegenation and familicide seem more common than genuine love and affection, Brussels by Night ultimately reveals a spiritually necrotic Belgium that seems to be on the verge of collective suicide, so it should be no surprise that the indigenous population birth rate of the country has been in steady decline for decades while the Muslim Arab populations has been growing at a absolutely revolting rate (while around 23% of the nation's population is of non-Belgian origin, around 70% of Brussels is of non-Belgian origin, with about 36% being Muslim Arabs and negroes). Although completely different types of films, Brussels by Night makes a great double feature with Ex Drummer as it demonstrates that the lowland nation has only become all the more degenerate and nihilistic over the past two decades. In terms of brutal yet stylish European flicks with teeth and a fiercely foreboding atmosphere, Didden's flick also makes for an excellent double feature with the Austrian serial killer flick Angst (1983) aka Fear directed by Gerald Kargl. Indeed, if you want to see a rare 1980s European flick with testicular fortitude that does not wallow in pretentious art faggotry and makes most of Scorsese's post-Taxi Driver films seem like goofy big budget Guidosploitation pieces and virtually all of Tarantino's films seem like autistic exercises in superficially stylized fanboy masturbation, Brussels by Night makes for a somewhat surprisingly worthwhile cinematic work that demonstrates that anti-romantic race-hate in a noir-ish form can make for an endearing experience if senseless death and destruction is involved.