Sixteen-year-old African migrant Lokita (Mbundu) lives in Belgium, but faces deportation if she can’t secure refugee status. Eleven-year-old Tori (Schils) already has his papers, and Nokita’s only hope is to convince the authorities that she’s his sister. The pair certainly seem like siblings, having bonded on the trip over. Now they both deal drugs for Betim (Ukaj), who also works as a chef. Meanwhile, Firmin (Zinga) the smuggler who arranged their passage, is owed a lot of money. With time running out, Lokita gets pressured into an arrangement that could spell disaster.
The Dardenne brothers are back in peak form with this wrenching, heartbreaking feature, which plays like a thriller. A grim parable about society’s indifference to the plight of the world’s displaced and dispossessed, the film follows two desperate characters as they try to gain a foothold in a place that at least offers a shot at upward mobility. Non-pros Mbundu and Schils are superb playing two vulnerable but valiant souls, thrown together by fate, who rely totally on each other because they have no one else. The tension builds as their situation becomes more precarious. Nominated for the Palme d’Or at Cannes, “Tori and Lokita” never shrinks from hard truths about how we treat the marginalized among us.