American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
The Dardenne brothers focus intently on individuals in their films, which are among the best in recent years. In such films as “Rosetta” (1999), “Le Fils” (“The Son,” 2002) and “L’Enfant” (“The Child,” 2005), their camera scarcely allow the protagonists to escape the frame. “Lorna’s Silence” begins that way, but allows shots in which Lorna is not even present. A plot begins to unfold which she isn’t aware of.
Lorna (Arta Dobroshi) is a young woman of about 30 from Albania, now resident in Belgium. She is a beneficiary and exploiter of the marriage-for-sale racket. A pathetic drug addict named Claudy has married her for money, a vermin named Fabio has arranged this marriage, Fabio plans to arrange Claudy’s death, a Russian will pay Lorna to marry him so he can obtain a passport and then, Lorna believes, she will be free to marry her lover Sokol. They even know the little storefront where they talk of opening a cafe.
It is all so shabby and sad. And dominating the early scenes is the character of Claudy (Jeremie Renier), who wants to quit heroin cold turkey and is a wretched, needy, trembling creature. Renier’s performance is the best thing in the movie, although all the actors, cast partly for their faces, are part of creating this desperate world.
Lorna treats Claudy coldly. He telephones her incessantly. He is afraid to be left alone. Eventually his pathos wears her down; she’s not an evil woman, just an opportunist. She wonders if it might not be possible for her to divorce Claudy, rather than clear the stage with an overdose — Fabio’s plan.