Cannes 2022: “Tori and Lokita”, the Dardennes straight to the heart

Tori and Lokita***

by Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne

Nostalgia **

by Mario Martone

(Official selection – In competition)

The Dardenne brothers are at home in Cannes, where they have already won two Palme d’Or with Rosetta in 1999 then The Child in 2005, but also a screenplay prize for Lorna’s Silence (2008), a grand prize for The kid on a bike (2011) and a directing award forYoung Ahmadin 2019. A prize list to make any filmmaker green with envy. Suffice to say that the duo of Belgian directors no longer has much to prove here, as they have demonstrated in the past their ability to hit the mark with stories deeply rooted in the foundations of our contemporary Western societies.

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This is what leads the two brothers to go ever more to the essential with a cinema to the bone that avoids the traps of demonstrative overload and sentimentality. They demonstrate it once again brilliantly with this compact drama (1:28), featuring two migrant children whose innocence will be trapped in a fatal gear. Tori and Lokita come from Africa and have been inseparable since they met on the boat that took them across the Mediterranean.

To the point of passing himself off, in the eyes of all, as brother and sister. He is an orphan boy, whose status as a child witch has earned him persecution in his country. She is a big teenager responsible for feeding her family back home. They live together in the same household and are forced, come weekends, to work for a cook-dealer in order to reimburse the amount of their passage.

A story with a clear line

A choice with serious consequences. When the young girl is denied her papers, she is forced to go into hiding and separate from her “little brother”. The two children will then never cease to find each other. As always with the Dardenne brothers, the darkness of their words and the dryness of their staging are counterbalanced by the deep humanity that emerges from the characters. The light here comes from the indissoluble bonds that have been created between these two children left to their own devices and whose solidarity is the only way to survive. Lokita acts like a mother to Tori, whom she protects and forces to go to school.

The film, entirely centered on them, moves at a hectic pace to its predictable outcome. The camera, nervous as it follows Tori and Lokita through the city streets at night, calms down when they are together in the same shot. A great sweetness emanates from it, which makes their separation all the more heartbreaking. The clear line of the story, reduced to a few adventures, embraces in a single movement all the pitfalls of European migration policy and the darkness of a world always ready to exploit children. With this new film, carried by the youthful grace of its two interpreters, Pablo Schils and Joely Mbundu, Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne once again touch our hearts.

Naples, full character of Mario Martone’s film

Another implacable drama with heady darkness, Nostalgia by Mario Martone, second film in competition yesterday. He takes us to Naples, where Felice returns after forty years spent abroad, to see her mother neglected during all these years. The city plagued by precariousness and the influence of the mafia has not really changed. Why did this man who walks the streets of his childhood neighborhood leave for so long? What haunts him to the point of going to confession to the parish priest, launched into a merciless war against the Camorra?

The first half hour of the film, purely contemplative and imbued with the nostalgia that makes its title, is disconcerting before the plot unfolds and forces Felice to confront his past and a childhood friend, who has become a local godfather. . Pierfrancesco Favino, the brilliant actor of Traitor by Marco Bellocchio, amazes us once again in this role. But the mafia is here only a pretext for a reflection on the roots, the guilt and the forgiveness which ends up embarking us with it in this wandering in the heart of the city, magnificently filmed, character in its own right of this story.

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Committed filmmakers

Jean-Pierre Dardenne, the eldest, was born in 1951, his brother Luc being three years younger. Graduated respectively in drama and philosophy, they shot all their films together.

After debuts in the committed documentary, they switched to fiction in 1987 with Falsch and gain notoriety with The promise in 1996.

They are part of the circle of nine directors who have twice won the Palme d’Or at Cannes. alongside Francis Ford Coppola, Shohei Imamura, Emir Kusturica, Michael Haneke and Ken Loach.

Tori and Lokita is their 12and fiction movie.


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