The relationship between the young couple is complicated. Lorna, with a boyfriend back home and another potential husband eager to obtain Belgian citizenship waiting in the wings, has no romantic attachment to Claudy. Early scenes show her disgust and impatience for her lazy, feeble husband who does little more then shoot-up, play cards and follow her around like a puppy-dog. Nevertheless she can't help but feel sympathy towards the man she is using solely to obtain her citizenship. Claudy's feelings are equally muddled. He is aware that Lorna is using him and yet is devastated when she talks about divorce. He plays on his weaknesses to illicit Lorna's sympathy and then plagues her with childish demands. Their relationship, masterfully played out by Arta Dobroshi and returning Dardenne brother favourite Jérémie Renier, is utterly, intensely fascinating. They're both the victims and the aggressors in their relationship and who you root for and who you find repulsive flips frequently from scene to scene.
But the movie isn't focused on the relationship between Claudy and Lorna. As Lorna struggles to earn her money quickly she is forced to choose between protecting Claudy, whose desire to kick his drug-habit is problematic for her divorce proceedings, and her desire to protect her own small dream of owning a café with her long-distance boyfriend. Her optimism and strength are quickly torn apart when the man responsible for arranging both her marriages quickly yanks her down to reality by reminding her that she is little more then a pawn for people who want to cheat the system. The movie falls apart in the final third, the twists and turns a bit ridiculous given the slow, yet gripping, pace of the previous sections. And yet the movie is still compelling, quietly questioning a system in which people must go to such violent lengths in order to obtain simple and innocent desires.
The lack of music, gritty cinematography and superb acting all lend itself to the feelings of realism that pervade the film. The Dardenne brothers make us believe in Lorna's plight, her struggle between what she feels morally is right and the silence that will enable her to live out her dream.