out of Five
Running time: 105
Well directed, brilliantly acted and grippingly tense drama that packs a powerful emotional punch, though the miserablism is occasionally overwhelming.
What's it all about?
Directed by arthouse darlings the Dardennes brothers (Jean-Pierre and Luc), The Silence of Lorna stars Arta Dobroshi as Lorna, an Albanian immigrant who has married junkie Claudy (Jeremie Renier) in order to get Belgian citizenship, as part of a plan devised by her shifty agent, Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione). The next part of the plan involves getting a divorce from Claudy so that Lorna can marry a Russian mafioso, who will pay big bucks to acquire quick citizenship, money that Lorna hopes to use to open a snack bar with her boyfriend (Alban Ukaj).
However, Lorna discovers that Fabio doesn't want to wait for the divorce and is planning for Claudy to die of an overdose. As she desperately tries to help Claudy get clean, Lorna gradually realises that she's putting both their lives in danger.
Arta Dobroshi (who looks like Ellen Page's older sister) is terrific as Lorna, who belatedly realises that she might have bitten off more than she can chew. Jeremie Renier is equally good, delivering a powerful performance as the needy Claudy, who is utterly dependent on Lorna to help him get clean; their scenes together generate a chemistry that forms the emotional heart of the film.
The matter-of-fact script leaves you with the depressing realisation that this sort of thing is happening all the time. As a result, you're desperate for Lorna to find a way out of her situation and the Dardennes pile on the tension as the film progresses.
The film is extremely well directed, with the Dardennes abandoning their handheld camera approach for something less intimate but equally powerful, as it forces you to watch, helpless, from the sidelines as the events unfold. This is heightened by their traditional use of long takes and the absence of background music.
The Silence of Lorna is a superbly directed drama with wrenchingly raw performances that is both emotionally gripping and ultimately devastating to watch. Recommended.