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THE SILENCE OF LORNA

Director: JEAN-PIERRE DARDENNE, LUC DARDENNE

BELGIUM-FRANCE-ITALY-GERMANY • 2008 • SUBTITLED • COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 105 MIN


ANOTHER YEAR, ANOTHER FILM FROM JEAN-PIERRE AND LUC DARDENNE, ANOTHER CANNES AWARD, THIS TIME THE BEST SCREENPLAY NOD FOR THIS LATEST ABSORBING MORAL QUANDARY PLAYED OUT IN THE UNLOVELY ENVIRONS OF LOW-RENT LIÈGE.
Striking Kossovan actress Arta Dobroshi came to Belgium and learned French especially for the title role of a young Albanian woman who’s paid hapless drug addict Claudy (Jeremie Renier, superb in the Dardenne’s Palme d’Or winner L’Enfant) for a cover marriage which is just about to qualify her for Belgian nationality. This means her shady fixer Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione) can then marry her off again to a high-paying Russian businessman eager for E.U. residency — the money from which will help her get set up in business with her Albanian boyfriend. The only problem is timing: divorce from Claudy will take too long, but there’s another, more extreme option…
Although the focus on constrained lives at the bottom of the heap is familiar content-wise, the film marks a slight change of approach for the Dardenne siblings, eschewing their usual ultra-mobile 16mm camera to shoot in 35mm for the first time and so take a slightly more reflective approach. There are undoubted thriller elements here too in the pressure-cooker suspense which builds up as we wonder whether Lorna will break her silence and end the cycle of exploitation in which she herself has become dangerously implicated. As ever though, it’s the lean directness of the storytelling which impresses, as well as the brothers’ affecting insistence on the unexpected moral sensitivity of those whose circumstances makes every day a battle for survival. — Trevor Johnston.

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