The Silence Of Lorna

The Silence Of Lorna


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Lorna is a young Albanian who dreams of owning a cafe in Belgium with her boyfriend Sokol. She has agreed to a sham marriage in order to get citizenship, but when the gangsters who arranged it want her to marry a rich Russian so that he, in turn, can immigrate, they need to get her junkie husband Claudy out of the way. Unexpectedly, Lorna finds that she has come to see Claudy as a human being, and what seemed simple before is now far more complicated.

With its apparently simple story and its grim verite sets, this is not at first glance a very engaging film, but it has a lot more going on beneath the surface, and towards the end takes an entirely new direction as the emotional strain of events begins to take its toll on Lorna's mental health. With only her viewpoint to see things from, it becomes difficult to know quite what's real and what isn't, but Lorna's increasing irrationality also marks a recognition of her own humanity and the responsibilities that go with it. This neatly parallels Claudy's starkly portrayed addiction and the greater control he displays as Lorna's presence shows him that there are other ways to live, the sham marriage hinting at what it might be like to have a real one. All the characters here are driven by a sense of need, illuminating the desperation and the animal concerns underlying civilised society.

Copy picture

Unfortunately, though Jérémie Renier is excellent as the cajoling, demanding Claudy, Arta Dobroshi is not really strong enough as Lorna. As the title suggests, much of her character arc is focused on silence - the secrets she stubbornly keeps even though they may cost others their lives - and she lacks the presence to carry this off, especially in the difficult later scenes. This is an interesting film, yet one can't help but wonder what it might have been like with a more charismatic actress.

Although there's little actual violence on display here, there's a lingering sense of brutality and of the ugliness of situations that are very much a part of the real world. Lorna is a character whom many unfortunate people will be able to identify with too easily, and one can only hope that films like this will encourage a dialogue that makes it easier for them to break their silence.

Reviewed on: 27 Nov 2008
Share this with others on...
A young immigrant in a sham marriage finds herself unexpectedly torn when the gangsters who arranged it want her junkie husband dead.
Amazon link

Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Writer: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Starring: Arta Dobroshi, Olivier Gourmet, Morgan Marinne, Jérémie Renier, Fabrizio Rongione, Alban Ukaj

Year: 2008

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Belgium, UK, France, Italy, Germany


London 2008

Search database:

If you like this, try:

Birthday Girl
The Child
Eastern Promises