Jean-Pierre and Luke Dardenne, the Belgium filmmaking duo known as the Dardenne brothers (Rosetta, Le fils, L’enfant), are back with Two Days, One Night. They wrote, directed, and produced the Belgium-French-Italian film that features an Oscar-nominated performance by Marion Cotillard. The nomination is well-deserved and unexpected, chosen over the hard campaigning Jennifer Aniston (Cake).
Cotillard plays Sandra, a young wife and mother who is struggling with depression and is on hiatus from her job at a small solar-panel factory after suffering a nervous breakdown. During her break, management realizes that they can function without her and offers to give each of her co-workers a €1,000 bonus if the majority votes to terminate her. Sandra has two days and one night to visit them individually and convince them to give up their bonuses and vote to save her job.
For better or worse, Two Days, One Night is a very human film. It’s about ordinary people and their unglamourous problems. It isn’t a fun movie, but I found it compelling. While it’s not super entertaining, it is interesting and Cotillard embodies the depressed Sandra with a beautifully understated and nuanced performance. She conveys a range of emotions with the slightest expressions and projects an overall feeling of despair without being melodramatic.
The Dardenne brothers brand of filmmaking lacks the Hollywood sheen and artificiality many casual moviegoers are accustomed to. They have a realistic approach and their flawed characters are relatable and feel true to life. One’s enjoyment of this film may hinge on how sympathetic they are towards Sandra. The character could’ve easily been unlikeable, but Cotillard won me over and really carried the movie.
4 out of 5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer:
Two Days, One Night is now playing in Houston at Sundance Cinemas.
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