Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne’s ‘Two Days One Night’

Two Days One NightThe insanely versatile Marion Cotillard gives a near career best performance as Sandra in Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne’s Two Days One Night. This is a perfect example of minimalist storytelling allowing for performance and emotion to take centre stage.

Sandra (Cotillard) has come out of the hospital to some very unwelcome news; during her stay in the hospital she has been fired. The infinitely wise and spineless management decides that the only way Sandra can hope to stay employed at the factory is to convince her co-workers to give up their much-needed yearly bonuses. Now, over the course of one weekend, Sandra must confront each co-worker individually in order to win a majority of their votes before time runs out.

With Two Days One Night, the Dardennes have taken a simple but important look at how self interest plays into society. The story is straight forward and stripped down but this is a powerful and honest portrayal of how we react in the face of compassion when it might compromise our own self interest.

The Dardennes are playing to their strengths with this film. Previous efforts like the The Kid with the Bike and Rosetta are undemanding in their execution but thoughtful, important films demanding our attention.  Two Days One Night is a film that is simple on the surface but overflowing with both compassion and wisdom. In short, this is a film that everyone should watch.

We rarely see films so raw and poignant that border on, but never cross over, into a preachy or self important tone. This is the kind of film that plays on multiple levels and could be taken as a simple tale but I firmly believe the Dardennes are saying something about us as a whole. About how we judge and ignore our neighbors on both a local and a global level. They are grappling with some complex issues, but what exactly are they? Watch the film, you should hear them out, they have something important to say.

I am a writer/critic for Following Films and co host of the War Machine Vs War Horse podcast. You can find me on Twitter @following_films and on the Google + community Ultimate Movie Geeks. I live in Tucson Arizona with my incredibly patient and understanding wife and my constantly amazing four year old son.

3 thoughts on “Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne’s ‘Two Days One Night’

  1. Great review, Christopher. Rosetta had more visceral impact on me, but Two days is a more mature work which I think will stay with me for a very long time.

  2. Very good review, Christopher; this looks like a fine, introspective film, and I hope to see it soon. I wonder if it’s the type of thing that could’ve been made here in the United States. Not sure, but the subject is an intriguing one.

  3. I will look forward to seeing this, based on your interesting review. Ms Cotillard has indeed shown great versatility, alongside breathtaking acting talent. Her portrayal of Edith Piaf in ‘La Vie en Rose’ is still one of my favourite biographies ever filmed. Many French film-makers score highly with me by adapting the ‘less is more’ philosophy in their work, and this appears to be just that kind of film, from these Belgian brothers.
    Best wishes from England, Pete.

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