MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Lorna’s Silence (2008)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A compelling story, expertly told and supremely well acted.”

Lorna 1.jpg
The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched. The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough. I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies. With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

“It’s too late.  We agreed.  He’s just a junkie.”

If I’ve ever seen an Albanian movie, I don’t remember it.  I’ve only ever seen one Belgian movie, and I didn’t remember that until I saw who directed this one.  Which is why this review is a great reminder of why I decided to watch more foreign language movies in 2016.  Because I just got a two-for…   The story of an Albanian woman, set in Belgium, giving me double the multicultural exposure for my movie watching buck, with Lorna’s Silence.

Lorna (Arta Dobroshi) is an Albanian living in Belgium courtesy of a sham marriage to Claudy (Jeremie Renier).  A junkie and all around loser, Claudy was useful for the initial immigration related marriage, but now, he’s in the way.  Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione), who organised the wedding between Lorna and Claudy, has a new proposition.  He’s found a cashed up Russian in need of a quick marriage, and Lorna is happy to oblige.  They decide the best way to get Claudy out of the way is by facilitating an overdose.

With one dodgy marriage about to be destroyed for another, Lorna is also trying to build a future for herself and the man she actually wants to spend her life with, boyfriend Sokol (Alban Ukaj).  Together, they have been squirreling away money to open a café and start their lives together as legal Belgian citizens.  But things get complicated when Claudy makes real strides toward kicking his addiction, and Lorna begins to feel guilty about her part in his planned demise.

I have no idea if these kinds of arranged marriages of convenience and cash are common in Europe, but the important thing is, Lorna’s Silence made me believe it as a relatable basis for a story about relatable characters.  Describing the plot, it sounds like the worst kind of soap opera extremes.  Seeing it in action, it makes Lorna’s life, and the lives of everyone around her feel too real, with stakes too high, for it be dismissed as soap or pulp.

Between the western way movies are marketed and saturate our lives these days, the amount of time I spend reading about movies on pop culture websites, and the sheer number of movies I see, it’s almost impossible to be surprised by anything these days.  I generally know what actors are capable of, I know what to expect from certain writers and directors.  Even when I love a movie, it’s normally for all the exact reasons I could have predicted I would love it.  Because if that, it’s the unknown that has made this foreign language movie binge so worth while.

I didn’t recognise a single name or face of any of the cast of Lorna’s Silence.  And even though I know that writers / directors Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne are massively revered and respected modern masters, I’d only seen one of their movies before this.  So while I’m totally ready to accept them as revered, modern masters, their work is still too fresh to my eyes to know if there are any recurring themes, or film making quirks that I should expect.
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All of that is to say, Lorna’s Silence is a compelling story, expertly told and supremely well acted.  And all of that stuff was only amplified by the fact that I had absolutely no reason to expect any of it going in, because I had absolutely no preconceptions, positive or negative.  Is it spoiler to stay away from plot details but ruin the surprise that a movie is awesome?

Lorna’s Silence
Directed By – Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Written By – Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Other Opinions Are Available.  What did these people have to say about Lorna’s Silence?
The Guardian
Roger Ebert
Forrest in Focus

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