Since turning from documentaries to fiction in the mid-1990s, the Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have crafted a series of stunning if bleak dramas about Europe's outcasts: the unemployed, the homeless, an underclass of illegal immigrants, black marketeers, teenage hoods, and thieves.
In Lorna's Silence, the Dardennes' austere but oddly hopeful fifth film, an Albanian woman (the mesmerizing Arta Dobroshi) tries to make a new life for herself in the Belgian city of Liège. Lorna shares an apartment with Claudy (Jérémie Renier, from the Dardennes' The Promise and The Child), a junkie who has fear and failure in his eyes. The pair are husband and wife: Lorna married Claudy to gain her Belgian citizenship, a plan orchestrated by the mobster Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione). Either by overdose or "accident," Claudy is a goner - and then Lorna can be wed to a Russian who likewise seeks European papers. Thousands and thousands of euros will change hands.