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The Crack Magazine

tori and lokita.jpg

Tori and Lokita

Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

Stars: Pablo Schils, Joely Mbundu, Alban Ukaj

Two young West African immigrants struggle to survive in the Dardenne’s latest, a typically humane but unsentimental and uncontrived social realist tale set in Liège. It begins with an extended one-shot close-up sequence as adolescent girl Lokita (Schils) tries to convince the authorities that little boy Tori (Mbundu) is her brother. Despite the deep bond the two have formed, it is revealed that they are not siblings; they’re not even from the same country. Tori has been granted residency asylum already, and Lokita thinks claiming kinship with him represents her best shot.  While they are waiting for the decision, the two make ends meet by selling drugs in order to pay off the bullying couple who smuggled them to Belgium. When Lokita has to take a special assignment by their drug dealer employers, the two are cut off from each other making them far more vulnerable. Even by Dardenne standards, this is a harrowing tale of vulnerable young people all but left to their own devices and struggling to get by on the periphery of society. It’s executed in their typically austere and compassionate manner, but also works as a nerve-wracking thriller as the two attempt to navigate their precarious and dangerous circumstances. The leads, as usual played by non-actors, deliver deeply affecting performances, particularly Schils who is heart-breaking as a smart and resilient little boy who has had to grow up way too early. A deeply empathetic but depressingly relevant tale.

David Willoughby

Follow David on Twitter @DWill_Crackfilm