The many films of the illustrious career of brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who captured Sodankylä in 2005 with their sympathetic natures, have already become so familiar to our festival audience that we know we can trust the Dardenne standard. Tori and Lokita does not disappoint: this is an even more ascetic film about immigration, children and youth – as experienced at the grass-roots level of the streets.
We follow two paperless African refugees in Belgium; Tori, a young boy from Cameroon, and Lokita, a teenage girl from Benin. Their sibling-like bond of friendship helps them deal with everyday challenges in the midst of multi-front threats from petty crime and drug trade.
It’s impressive how the Dardennes seem to know the multiple facets of their hometown Liège so thoroughly. One can’t help but admire the indomitable Tori and Lokita, as their stories wind up towards their shocking conclusions. There is no indulging in sentimentality, even though their kinship-affirming duets are endearing.
Two-time winners of the Palme d’Or in Cannes, JEAN-PIERRE (b. 1951) and LUC (b. 1954) DARDENNE have always worked together, both as writers and directors, ”as one author with four eyes.” Without compromise, they have stayed true to their calling, starting in 1975 with social TV documentaries. In 1981, the Dardennes moved into fiction. Such accomplishments of their mature era as Le Promesse, Rosetta, The Son, The Child, The Silence of Lorna, The Kid with a Bike and Two Days, One Night have proved true Jonathan Rosenbaum’s characterization from years ago: “No one else in the world is at the moment making films as instinctively tuned into the life of the modern working class.”