Two Days, One Night Review
“Would you reconsider your vote on Monday so that I can keep my job?”
This is the main question, or variations of it, that we hear numerous times throughout Belgian directors the Dardenne brothers' last movie, a powerful drama about solidarity which could even been seen as a tense social thriller. This is a very straightforward question for a very rich, and not straightforward, movie.
Friday, Sandra, a young Belgian mother, is about to lose her job, after coming back from a depression, because most of her co-workers at Solwal, a small company manufacturing solar panels, have chosen to keep their bonus rather than her. Sandra and Juliette, one of the co-workers who has voted for her to stay, have managed to convince the director of the company to do another vote on Monday because the latter has discovered that Jean-Marc, the overseer, has influenced the vote of some of the co-workers by basically telling them that if “it's not her, it's them”. Sandra, helped by her husband, now has the weekend to convince her colleagues to vote for her to keep her job.
On this rather simple premise, mainly inspired by similar events that happened around 2008 in the Peugeot factory in Montbeliard, the Dardenne brothers have crafted yet another great movie which encompasses many serious social themes: solidarity, both giving and receiving; depression; rejection; work; family.
The movie works extremely well because, in addition to the powerful postulate, they are able to count on a very strong performance from Marion Cotillard. She is not the first person that one would have in mind for a role like Sandra, as it is very far from the glamour Hollywood image she has gained since her Oscar winning performance in La Vie en Rose (even taking into account more serious roles in recent movies such as The Immigrant or Blood Ties). However, one can only bow to the wonderful job she has done in this film. I am not a big fan of Marion Cotillard's work but I was particularly impressed by how the actress managed to completely disappear and give room to the fragile and desperate Sandra. From the way she talks (her accent is quite spot on, but the way she delivers her lines is even better) to her body movement (the way she shakes people's hand during her numerous encounters for example), everything is amazingly credible. In addition, she brings to the role a fragility and despair which, from pretty much the first shots of the movie, allows us the identify completely with Sandra and to feel the pain she is experiencing while going through her “quest” over these 2 days.
Marion Cotillard’s interpretation, also participates, together with the movie's overall subtlety, in a very accurate depiction of depression, its consequences, and how depressed people can regain strength to live rather than let themselves go. There are no flashbacks, no lengthy explanations but we still understand very clearly, through the various scenes between Sandra and her husband, that she had a very difficult time and that she is coming back from far. Despite Sandra saying several times to her co-workers that she is “stronger than before”, we can feel that she is on a tight rope. Additionally, the fact that Sandra believes that “she is a nobody”, and that she understands why her co-workers would not support her, is also very important and strongly emphasises the empathy, and hence identification, with the character.
It is also very important to acknowledge the work of the two directors. There are no superfluous gimmicks in the movie. We follow Sandra in her encounters with her co-workers through long one take sequences which, although reinforcing the documentary feel of the movie, also manage to create an incredible tension (without any score!). Although this could seem like an easy thing to do, it is actually the result of very hard work from the directors during the careful preparation of the movie, both in terms of framing and through the work with their cast, and it creates a very gripping experience. While we follow Sandra going to meet pretty much all of her co-workers, the movie never gets boring, There is a great variety in the replies given to Sandra (several of them not what she would have expected, both positively or negatively) or reactions, which makes the audience question themselves about what is “right” or “wrong”. Each time, we find ourselves in Sandra's shoes while she is painfully repeating the same question.
Finally, I will not spoil the ending here, but I will just mention that it is in perfect adequacy with the themes of the movie.
Two Days, One Night is released in the UK by Artificial Eye.
The movie is presented in its original ratio (1:85:1) in a nice 1080p transfer. The image quality is very good on all aspects (clarity, details, etc.) and allows experiencing the movie in optimal conditions.
On the audio quality side, the disc offers two options: French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and French LPCM 2.0 (nothing problematic to report here) and there are also optional French subtitles.
The bonus section is interesting but quite short.
The first bonus is a short interview from the Dardenne brothers (in French with English subtitles) discussing where the idea of the movie came from (similar events at the end of the noughties where solidarity was put in the balance by directors or workers and the economical crisis at the time) and that themovie was also the opportunity for them to tell the story about a woman who does not believe anymore because she thinks that she is disappearing. They also explain how they came to choose Marion Cotillard for the role, how they worked with her and the rest of the cast (through numerous rehearsals before the start of the movie) and their choices to shoot the movie (for instance deciding that each meeting should be in real-time to allow the characters to have bigger presence and increase the tension by creating addictive shots). Overall, a very informative, albeit quite short, bonus.
The other bonuses of the disc are two interviews with Marion Cotillard, both in English (the second one much shorter). The main information relate to how she was approached by the directors (and her surprise that they wanted her for this role), her reactions towards the script and the work she did to put herself in Sandra's shoes (losing her Parisian accent for example). Again two informative interviews which, even if they are not extremely interesting, at least allow to witness the actress' incredible transformation in the movie.
The last bonus is the original UK Trailer for the movie.
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