Film Review: LORNA’S SILENCE

Written and Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Released August, 27, 2008
Belgian
105 minutes
Starring Arta Dobroshi, Jeremie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Alban Ukay

I doubt that I will see a better film this year than Lorna’s Silence. As someone trying to write, I was blown away by the ability of these two Belgian brothers to tell a fairly complex story in a completely lucid way. They achieve this, as Roger Ebert has pointed out with their earlier movies, (Rosetta, 1999, The Son, 2003, The Child, 2005) by putting one foot in front of the other. The camera follows Lorna from scene to scene. If this makes the movie sound flat or dull, it isn’t. Arta Dobroshi’s face, shown mostly in profile, keeps our attention throughout. There is something wonderful about the single person point-of-view in a movie. Its tight focus allows us to understand a character because we become one with them.


Plot: Lorna is a young Albanian refuge living in Liege. She has a boyfriend, Sokol, she sees on occasion and makes a meager living working in a dry-cleaning store. She makes a deal with a hustling taxi driver, Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione) that she will marry a Belgian junkie, Claudy, to attain citizenship and then divorce him to marry a Russian who needs citizenship to peddle his wares and escape Russia. The Russian (Alban Ukay) has plenty of money to pay off the junkie for marrying Lorna. Lorna believes the money she is paid and her Belgian citizenship will allow her to marry her boyfriend and open a small cafe. The plan begins to go awry when the junkie (Jeremie Renier, in a mesmerizing performance) actually asks for Lorna’s help in kicking his habit.

At first, she is able to blow off his overtures for aid, but he wears her down. The rest of the movie emanates from her divergence from the deal she has struck with Fabio. Although Lorna is not a prostitute, she shares their lack of esteem and is little more than another currency to the men in the film. The ending is enigmatic but satisfying nevertheless.

Highly recommended.

Patti
Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at http://pattinase.blogspot.com/. She hopes you’ll join in.