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With saintly protagonists and pantomime villains, who are beyond redemption, Tori and Lokita is scarcely believable in all its forced bleakness.

Every time they walk the Croisette Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne get an award from the Cannes film festival. This year their new film Tori and Lokita received a special award, but in truth, there is not much special about the picture at all.

The film tells the tale of two refugees, one who has been officially recognised, one who isn't. They try to help each other out by pretending to be siblings but when that fails they are sucked into an extortion scheme for a fake residency card.

There is no denying the huge social heart beating under the well-intended picture but the Dardennes beat the audience over the head with their morals, painting the protagonists as saints and the persons extorting them as pantomime villains beyond redemption, which leads to a denouement that is scarcely believable in all its forced bleakness.

Combined with a plot that is too thin to sustain 90 minutes and central performances that are oddly wooden, this makes Tori and Lokita a frustratingly bland film.

release: 2022

director: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne

starring: Pablo Schils, Mbundu Joely, Charlotte De Bruyne, Tijmen Govaerts


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