Their new film both follows and diverts from Dardenne aesthetic history. Lorna, an Albanian living illegally in an urban area of Belgium, has married a Belgian citizen who also happens to be a junkie. She is poised to divorce him and marry a Russian for some legal/citizenship necessities. I think (can't be sure, i saw this un-subbed) she is also a former prostitute, and her divorce/marriage plots are being orchestrated and executed by someone who seems like he could have been her pimp. No sex is presently being sold; these marriages are business deals, rife with concerns both procedural and bureaucratic-- but of course, it is just like being a pimp (and prostitute) on another social level.
Against Lorna's noble efforts, her ?pimp? has her current husband, now in the midst of transformation from junkie to recovering addict, murdered. Lorna is directed to move on and marry a strange Russian man who will provide her with some clearer hope of the goal at hand: Lorna's dreams of economic freedom-- running her own business (a cafe.) But in these gaps of identity--from junkie's wife, to widow to new trophy wife to entrepeneur-- a rupture halts her forward motion. It seems Lorna has become pregnant.
Although we know Lorna has a Russian lover named Sokol, the most passionate and sexual scene of the film takes place immediately after the junkie, Claudy, gets clean. Lorna finds him poised to relapse, kicks out his dealer/supplier and embraces him naked. The scene is economised -- we only see them kiss and hug. But the kisses are the kind that scream. We can hear them cry when their lips meet. There is a heightened understanding and spiritual connection between Claudy and Lorna. This is the first time that we witness something fantastic ; this intense spiritual-sexual chemistry, cuts into the dire realism of their relationship. Both are true social outcasts who suffer more when they cut themselves off from the help of others.
So who is the father? Is it Sokol? Is it Claudy?
The neat linearity of her plan has suddenly radiated outward. Lorna is no longer poised to jump right into marriage.
We learn her last period was 7 weeks ago. We are not sure when she conceived, but she tells the pimp it is certainly Claudy's.
He angrily chastises her and threatens to force her to abort it-- she refuses and doubles over.
Echoes of spiritual unity:
Echoes of spiritual unity:
Claudy too, was seen doubled over before from withdrawl cramps.
She is rushed to hospital where a technician tells Lorna that no pregnancy was visible in the tests.
This child is unseen. Any visible sign, i .e. baby bump, is negligible. If there was a miscarriage, which Lorna refutes, then it was a missed abortion.
The rest of the film follows this tangential plot line. Lorna escapes certain murder, and is seen alone, talking to her belly and apologizing for the death of its father.
Which abrupt death are we facing? And what and who are we left mourning?
Is it the death of Claudy? The death of Lorna's possible pregnancy? Perhaps it's the death of the Real. The only refuge our heroine finds is in the diversion of her meticulous, always bordering on coldly clinical plan of survival. This diversion is the birth of the Imaginary, and its infiltration and subsequent replacement of the Real. Could it be possible she is truly carrying Claudy's child? Of course. But it is this doubt, this mystery, that introduces the disruption of character and narrative flow. It imposes the possibility of psychology over evidence. A relational narrative has been born from Claudy's tragic life and death. His disease can be read as self inflicted, yet his tortured desire to rejoin the living is the experienced pain that Lorna truly shared. The film's final movement is motivated by reverberation. These echoes of trauma, from either Claudy's murder, or the threat of abortion, or an actual miscarriage, take over Lorna's reality and color our experience of her story. There was dignity in Lorna's clarity and commitment in overcoming her imprisonment of social status. There is transcendence in her commitment to her spiritual elevation as Mother, be it an identity that is real or imagined.