Monday, March 22, 2010

Lorna's Silence

Lorna's Silence (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2009) [7]

I've never been overly infatuated with what I've seen of the Dardenne's work but after seeing Lorna's Silence, I'm beginning to get it. The Dardennes take characters, drop them into trying social circumstances, stand back, and examine what goes on. On the surface, it's seems very passive, minimalist cinema. Within their clinical, incessant examination comes a subtle, lyrical portrait of their characters, decisions, and societal norms. Lorna's Silence focuses on Lorna, a recent Albanian immigrant, played by Arta Dobroshi. Lorna is in a sham marriage to a junkie to get citizenship and then marry a Russian, all to open a snack bar with her share of the money. The film comes in as all the arrangements have been made and the plan is already started. What complicates the entire situation is that Lorna has grown compassion for Claudy, the junkie as he attempts to get clean. This new-found clarity of herself complicates everything else for Lorna, as well as her agreements with Fabio, the small change gangster arranging all this. The plotline here follows the same sign posts that have defined the Dardenne's cinema but they execute their films so well repetition is not really an issue. In fact, I like this film much more than their previous effort L'Enfant, mostly because I understand the brother's style a bit more but also I think the film, like Lorna itself, shows a bit more compassion for those involved. Lorna is the focus and Dobroshi plays her with the right amounts of stoicism and wounded spirit to make everything believable. The ending is up for a little debate if it fits the rest of the film. I find it intriguing but on further thinking, find it out of step with the social realism that defines most of the rest. Make no mistake, Lorna's Silence is still fairly bleak and unrelenting in its social accuracy but by opening up just a little from their previous work, maybe there's a new road coming through the brother's cinema.

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