The Silence of Lorna: The high price of life in the West
by Fabien Lemercier
19/05/2008 - With The Silence of Lorna [trailer, film focus] – which screened in competition this morning at the Cannes Film Festival – brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne plunged the international press into the merciless world of illegal immigration.
Through the moving portrait of a woman seeking to fulfil her dreams of EU citizenship whilst trying to escape from a spiral of criminality where money rules and compassion is forbidden, the Belgian filmmakers (two-time Palme d’Or winners) continue their exploration of invisible and precarious lives. This microcosm reflects wider social problems on which the directors avoid pronouncing moral judgements, preferring to focus on the human aspect and its mysteries.
The Dardenne brothers centre their film for the first time on a young woman – as opposed to the post-adolescent Rosetta or the mother in The Child [trailer, film focus]. Remarkable newcomer Arta Dobroshi plays Lorna, an Albanian woman who enters into a marriage of convenience with Claudy, a Belgian junkie (played by a very believable Jérémie Rénier) who is trying to wean himself off drugs.
But the plan devised by Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione) – a local member of a Mafia network who brought Lorna and her fiancé (Alban Ukaj) into western Europe – is entirely different: "Divorce is too risky because of the investigations, it’d be better for you to be widowed,” he says. "We’ll make him overdose". For another marriage of convenience with a Russian man awaits Lorna, who has now acquired her Belgian papers.
This scheme will earn her €10,000 and enable her to open a snack bar. But strange feelings of affection and guilt creep into the mind of the solitary young woman, who tries to save Claudy’s life and discovers that getting in the way of other people’s plans can be dangerous.
This story of harsh reality – penned by the Dardenne brothers – skilfully prolongs feelings of fear and suspense in the audience. Filmed in a style that is a little more detached from the characters than in the directors’ previous works, the film nonetheless lingers on the movements and silences of Lorna, a woman who symbolises immigration.
Produced by Belgium (51% investment – Les Films du Fleuve), France (39% – Archipel 35) and Italy (10% – Lucky Red), The Silence of Lorna was made for €3.99m. This included co-production support from RTBF and Arte France Cinéma, an advance on receipts from the National Film Centre (CNC), as well as backing from the French Community of Belgium, Eurimages (€360,000) and Wallimage.
International sales are being handled by French company Celluloid Dreams.
(Translated from French)