As life becomes smaller, options shrink. As options shrink, life becomes more desperate. The spiral is never pretty, yet to the filmmaking Dardenne brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc of Belgium, this dance of death is a slow waltz that seduces us with the same inevitability as a disabled airplane flopping helplessly back to Earth.
Arta Dobroshi plays Lorna, a waifish wanderer from Albania adrift in Liege, Belgium. Swimming listlessly through her personal inertia she has already been caught by Fabio (Fabrizio Ronqione) who offers her a modest sum of money to marry Claudy (Jeremie Renier). The deal is that once Lorna gets her Belgian citizenship she can divorce Claudy, then marry a certain Russian who would also benefit from being a citizen of Belgium.
With so many eastern Europeans wanting to make their economic mark in western Europe, this kind of convoluted arrangement is apparently not that uncommon. Fabio is not evil, he’s just a guy trying to make a living by bringing together people who have mutual interests.
Filming quietly at an extremely slow pace (by American standards), the Dardennes create a horror story without monsters. Lorna is doomed by her own lack of ambition, yet within her is a moral compass that demands to be recognized.
Capitalist democracies devour anyone without the skills to make their own money. That is, to have an ability to get someone else’s money and keep it for themselves. As Fabio, Claudy and the Russian guy keep jerking Lorna around, she doesn’t dare speak out.
Finally able to take it no longer, Lorna stands up for herself. But that only makes matters worse.