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.
Eleven-year-old Tori and Sixteen-year-old Lokita, from Africa living in Belgium, tell people they are brother and sister even though they are not blood-related. They rely on each other profoundly in this foreign country, where they don’t know anyone, and live a hellish life getting paid for delivering drugs to customers for Betim, who runs a restaurant as cover. Lokita has to send money home to her mom and five siblings in Cameroon, pay the debt to the broker who brought her to Belgium, and earn her own living. While she is even sexually exploited by Betim, Lokita desperately needs a work permit to free herself from this unfortunate reality. Yet, she keeps getting rejected in the visa screening process. Then, Betim suggests he can get her a fake visa if she does what he tells her. She has no choice but to accept his offer, which gradually casts a tragic shadow over Tori and Lokita.
In the same manner, as other films directed by the Dardenne brothers, this film also has commonalities. It sets in a grey Belgian city, follows a story of marginalized immigrants, and questions moral conscience while remaining a tension-filled thriller from start to finish. However, Tori and Lokita features more vital images and messages. It has a powerful capacity to immerse the viewers from the first sequence showing Lokita's immigration visa screening. As the screening starts, Lokita seems composed, and her answers seem somewhat perfunctory, but everything changes when the questions become difficult for her to answer, and she bursts into tears. The shaky images taken with hand-held cameras effectively show Lokita's state of mind. Non-professional actors frequently appear in films by the Dardenne brothers, but most have achieved outstanding outcomes. In this film, Joely Mbundu, who plays Lokita, and Pablo Schils, who plays Tori, act the loving relationship well, as if they were real brothers and sisters. Most of all, their miserable and desperate life rouses anger against the forces of evil, including the direct perpetrator, the drug dealer, and the blindness of the state's power, an indirect perpetrator. At the same time, Tori and Lokita is deeply moving and resonant. (CHUN Jinsu)
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