Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lorna's Silence (2008)

Good stuff, in general from the Dardenne brothers, but I fear that their formulas may be beginning to yield diminishing returns. Specifically in this movie, we once again have a movie about the plight of immigrants in scuzzy modern Belgium (just like La Promesse) and a feisty young woman trying to own a cafe (just like Rosetta) and dealing with an acute moral crisis (just like all of them) which is fine - the acting is perfect, the narrative is compelling, the moral issue is suitably drastic - but there's a whiff of been-there-seen-that. And this time, as if in order to juice things up a bit, the Dardennes have given their lead actress a scene or three where she gets (SPOILERS) to go crazy and have delusions, and I don't think this kind of internalized psychology seems to be their strong point. It feels a little contrived and inorganic when Lorna (Arta Dobroshi), the movie's Albanian immigrant, decides to have a hysterical pregnancy in order to deal with her complicity in the death of a Belgian junkie (Jeremie Renier, wraithlike), it doesn't really work - the movie takes on a melodramatic, sentimental quality that doesn't fit.

Of course, let me be clear that the movie is still excellent and better than 90% of what's out there right now - it's just no Rosetta, or even L'Enfant.



Craig Kennedy said...

I liked Lorna's Silence a lot though I agree it's familiar territory. For me the big difference was that I was actively engaged with the main characters and cared what happened to them. In L'Enfant, I was mostly just annoyed.

I suppose it makes for a more accessible, less-art housey kind of film, but I'm OK with that.

I agree thought that the ending didn't quite fit with what came before it. I didn't expect the transition, but it wasn't seamless.

Jeff McMahon said...

That's a reasonable comparison, Craig. I need to see L'Enfant again, but I think I pretty much had the same response. I was engaged with the characters in every previous Dardenne film, including Rosetta, who's probably the toughest out of the group to like outside of Dumb Young Guy in L'Enfant.