Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne’s Lorna’s Silence received less-than-glowing notices upon its Cannes premiere because – horror of horrors! – it exhibited faint traces of an actual genre plot, a development perhaps not wholly in line with the Belgian auteurs’ realist canon but which nonetheless suits them smashingly. Relocating from their usual hometown stomping ground of rural Seraing to urban Liege, the Dardennes focus their latest on Lorna (Ellen Page lookalike Arta Dobroshi, in a transfixing performance), an Albanian woman stuck in a loveless marriage to junkie Claudy (a piercing Jérémie Renier). Like water seeping through the cracks of a brick wall, slivers of context gradually trickle out from Lorna’s day-to-day grind at home, at work, and in conversations with Sokol (Alban Ukaj), a boyfriend with whom she plans to entrepreneurially set up a snack shop. It turns out that Lorna married Claudy to become a citizen, and that her mobster benefactor Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione) plans to kill Claudy via OD so that Lorna can then marry a Russian seeking citizenship. Complications arise when Claudy makes a good-faith effort to get clean, thereby engendering unexpected sympathy from Lorna, which manifests itself in a bout of lovemaking that, once Fabio goes ahead with his plans, turns out to have unintended psychological consequences for Lorna. Lorna’s immigration scam affords the filmmakers with another vehicle for socio-economic inquiry – especially in Lorna’s complicity in her own economic exploitation – with euro notes, a recurring sight (and sure to prompt more Bresson comparisons), soon taking on an almost totemic quality. Nonetheless, such issues resonate less powerfully than the Dardennes’ humanistic fixation on flawed characters from society’s margins stumbling, unexpectedly, toward enlightenment and salvation. Throughout, the Dardennes’ trademark handheld cinematography and sparse musical scoring proves as assured and intimate as ever. It’s a signature style that, particularly in the film’s latter sequences, creates a sense of disquieting suspense, amplifying the story’s more thriller-esque machinations while also allowing for a penetrating, deceptively sly interior portrait of Lorna, a wayward soul whose stoic exterior masks tumultuous inner change, and who ultimately finds meaning, and liberation, in a slow slide into madness.