Tori and Lokita (2022)

Directed by Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne

In Belgium today, a young boy and an adolescent girl who have travelled alone from Africa pit their invincible friendship against the difficult conditions of their exile.

Tori is, both literally and figuratively, dangerously crossing the road.


Fictional kinship is a motif the Dardennes have previously deployed. In Le Silence de Lorna (2008), an Albanian migrant’s sham marriage to a Belgian junky, Fabio, leads to his murder. Lorna attempts to salvage a non-transactional form of affinity from Fabio’s death by insisting that she is pregnant with the dead addict’s child: a fake pregnancy that eventually unravels her dream of owning a snack bar. All too often in the Dardennes’ films, it is attempts to find forms of solidarity – real or imagined – that lead to their characters’ downfall.
It is incontestable that the immigration policies of Europe in general and Belgium in particular are violent and racist, and there are many crusading documentaries that can and should be made about them. But what the Dardennes’ oeuvre suggests is that the situation cannot be remedied by mere policy adjustments. It’s much worse than that. In their films, papers do not bring security; they are simply another commodity to be traded in a cut-throat marketplace.

Joshua Craze (New Left Review)