The Dardenne Brothers, two-time Golden Palm winners, are back. Probably the best-known Belgian directors today, the duo's new film "Le Silence de Lorna" ("Lorna's Silence") is a fitting continuation of their particular style that relies on raw camerawork and stark female character portrayals.
The film tells the tale of Lorna, a girl from Albania who marries a Belgian to get Belgian nationality. In the process she gets entangled in a mafia ring that arranges marriages for non-European nationals.
The dilemma: her duty to the mafia, faced against the almost maternal affection she has for Claudy, the man she married to get her Belgian identity card. Once the Albanian woman becomes Belgian, the mafia wants to kill Claudy and use Lorna's new nationality to attract foreigners willing to pay for arranged marriages.
Lorna seldom speaks her mind. Her silence is a silence against her fate, a silence where all she can hope for is to open a snack bar with her boyfriend. We never get to know anything of her past in Albania. Her quest for identity in Belgium has erased all nostalgia.
But things turn against Lorna. Her desire to help Claudy kick his drug habit leads her to get involved with him, an emotional tranformation portrayed through a powerful love scene where hunger for affection overrides passion.
The mafia, however, kills Claudy. Obsessed with the idea that she is pregnant with Claudy's baby, Lorna's silent suffering turns to delusion.
"Lorna's Silence" may be applauded for its mise en scène, and, in particular, for Kosovar actress Arta Dobroshi's performance as the film's heroine. Nevertheless, the film does not live up to previous Dardenne brothers works like "Rosetta" or "L'enfant." One feels that the direcorial style of the brothers is nearing saturation, and requires new inspiration.
Nevertheless, the Dardenne brothers may well walk away with another prize. But if their next film does not mark a directorial evolution, the Belgian directors could be disappointed with the public's reaction.
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