"Tori and Lokita": In Search For Hope In A Hostile Terrain
The Dardenne brothers managed to be festival-regulars with their incredible pseudo documentaries, their unique approach to realism in cinema, and their unwavering empathy for marginalized groups and the voiceless to the extent that you cannot really go to a festival without watching a Dardenne brothers film or a movie that is heavily inspired by them.
The Dardennes’ twelfth movie, “Tori and Lokita”, is their most entertaining in years, as this one has various thriller elements, especially in the second half, to the extent that it comes to the edge of being a borderline genre movie. But what truly separates this movie from the rest of their body of work is how aggravated this movie is by the current state of civilization.
“Tori and Lokita” opens up with a long shot, close-up of the main character Lokita, as she’s being interviewed in Belgium’s immigration administration office, where she is essentially being grilled so they can grant her the papers that will allow her to work legally in the country, but she starts to falter when they start to ask about her brother Tori, to make sure that they are blood relatives.
Tori has been granted political asylum for a reason that is best discovered by the audience as it is one of the movie’s biggest surprises. From the outset we don’t know what is the real relationship between Tori and Lokita, as it becomes clear that they’re not brother and sister, however, the Dardenne brothers impose the question of “does it really matter?” they’re two individuals who have a sibling-like intimacy towards each other, and that’s all that we know.
As we follow both of the main characters navigating the harsh realities of being a foreigner in modern-day Belgium, we see them resort to dealing drugs for an Italian restaurant owner, so they can make a living while trying to tiptoe around the police and the smugglers who brought them to Belgium in the first place as they force them to bring them any earnings they made.
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