Le Silence de Lorna (2008)

18 03 2009

Like Philippe Garrel, the Dardennes have strayed very little from their usual style with their latest effort. At times, the plot becomes a bit too important (if that makes sense) but overall, it is definitely the same thing I’ve come to learn and love from them. If there’s any sign of change here, it’s that they seem to be slowly drifting into the realm of the crime genre. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a genre film by any stretch of the imagination, but their past two efforts have featured some criminal drama elements. It’s not a problem here or in L’Enfant, but I still find this thematic progression (if one can even call it that) more than a tad bit interesting.

As I already mentioned, the story here is more than a little bit absurd. A young Albanian couple dreams of having their own cafe. To secure the money, they agree to a bizarre settlement in which Lorna must marry a heroin addict. This all sounds a little bit ridiculous, but the exposition does not come in that order. It is slowly revealed that Lorna is not and has never been in love with her husband, Claudy. Instead he’s part of the deal. His likely death will leave Lorna and Sokol enough money to live out their dreams. This dream, though, is not introduced into the frame until the second half.

Taking this into account, I strongly recommend not to read any plot synopsis of the film, including this review. (I realize I probably should have mentioned that earlier.) If one knows all the details of every relationship than almost all of the narrative’s dramatic drive is absent. Of course, Dardenne fans know exactly what they’re getting into here – the characters’ back stories make up only a fraction of the film’s positives. Anyone who has seen a Dardenne picture before will not be surprised by the usual tracking handheld aesthetic, but it is worth mentioning that the camera moves in a much more fluid manner here. In addition, the visuals here are a bit more pronounced than usual. Not quite as expressive as 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days but certainly more poetic than L’Enfant. On the other hand, maybe it is just the abundance of neon lights that gives me this impression.

It should go without saying that the performances are pretty excellent all around, but Arta Dobroshi is particularly impressive. She pretty much has to be considering a majority of the film is tracking shots of her walking around. According to the not so trustworthy folks at IMDB, she knew hardly any French before she was casted. Did I say she was impressive yet? There are a few moments that border on melodrama, but it seems that she always grounds the other less subtle performers. Whatever the case, she’s absolutely wonderful and I definitely look forward to seeing more of her.

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