As promised in our recent article on the European Parliament LUX Cinema Prize, we begin our assessment of the three films up for the gong. A review of Občan Havel (2008) will follow on Picturenose presently, and you can check out Delta (2008) on our sister site, European Film Awards Reviews…
Belgian director brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne are no stranger to awards – L’Enfant (2005) scooped the Palme D’Or, and this, their latest, was awarded best screenplay at Cannes this year.
No surprise, then, to find them in the running for the Lux Cinema Prize, but will this one take it on 22 October? Well, it has all the Dardenne hallmarks – low-key narrative, hand-held camerawork, and so on. The story tracks the attempts of young Albanian woman Lorna (Arta Dobroshi’s) to cope, but the manner in which the viewer is dropped into the central character’s life, with almost no set-up or explanation, is an unusual move by the Dardennes.
Dobroshi gives a fine performance, as a woman who’s evidently reaching the end of her rope with her drug-addict husband Claudy (L’Enfant‘s Jérémie Renier, in a great role). Worse is to come – Claudy is revealed to be the pawn in a green card scheme, the necessary evil before Lorna can enter into an equally sham marriage with a Russian mobster, in order to gain Belgian citizenship.
In the final analysis, there really is not very much here to distinguish it from previous Dardennes dramas, but there’s no denying the almost uncomfortable ring of truth that pervades proceedings, and the curiously sudden conclusion will leave you talking.
So, do we have a winner? Probably – it is a Dardennes film, after all, and the competition takes place in Brussels. Go figure – but remember, you heard it here first, right?
STOP PRESS: Our reviewer has had a change of heart. Click here to find out his prediction as to the winner…
105 mins. In French.