Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night)
Written by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne
After an unspecified accident (however, I got the impression that it got something to do with drowning) and a subsequent struggle with depression, Sandra is finally ready to return to her workplace at a factory, when she receives distressing news: Their boss forced her colleagues to decide to either let her go or to forego their bonuses – and most of them chose their bonus. However, it seems that some of her colleagues were threatened by the foreman, claiming that when Sandra’s not laid off, someone else will. Thus, it was decided to have a new vote on Monday morning, giving Sandra the titular two days and one night to convince a majority of her colleagues to choose her over their bonus.
One of my favorite things about the movie is how Sandra is stuck between a rock and a hard place. There doesn’t really seem to be an ideal solution to this predicament. Because even if she manages to convince enough colleagues to vote for her, she probably won’t be very liked by the other ones who would then also lose their bonuses. Thus, I wasn’t sure if I should actually root for her to win. Ultimately, though, the outcome of the vote (even though the ending was perfect IMHO) doesn’t really matter, because “Deux jours, une nuit” is one of those movies that’s not about the destination, but the journey. The conversations with her co-workers were absolutely great. There’s a different dynamic with each and every one, all of them equally great. I also loved how the movie takes Sandra – and also the viewer – on this emotional rollercoaster-ride, being manic one second, and depressive the next, depending on how the conversation went. Thus, the movie works as a great illustration of bipolar disorder.
On the other hand you have the social angle that shows how many people are struggling nowadays, and which offers a fascinating microcosm of many things wrong in today’s world. You may think that it’s extremely unfair to let the workers decide if they’re willing to forego their bonuses in order for Sandra to be able to stay on, but I totally believed it, and it works as a great example how the “rich” often times set the “poor” against each other so that they’re distracted and don’t see where the root of the problem really lies (I heard this great joke a couple of days back that strikes a similar chord: A banker, an unemployed and an immigrant are sitting at a table, with 13 dollars in front of them. The banker grabs 12 dollars, then turns to the unemployed and says “Watch out, the immigrant will take your dollar away!”).
As good as the individual conversations are, “Deus jours, une nuit” wouldn’t be even half as good without Marion Cotillard (or at least a similarly talented actress) in the role of Sandra. She carries the movie effortlessly, convincingly portraying the different sides of her character, making Sandra likeable despite her flaws and some things that she says and does (her “I feel so alone” to her husband, even though not meant in a mean-spirited way, particularly stayed with me; that’s probably the worst thing a partner/spouse could say to me). Definitely one of the best performances that I’ve seen all year. Pretty much the only thing that I can hold against the movie is that here and there, it felt a little melodramatic, Also, some developments weren’t all that surprising. Other than that, though, it’s très bien, dealing with some timely social issues as well as depression, and offering a great emotional rollercoaster-ride, some hard-hitting scenes, and a superb central performance by one of the best actresses working today.
I agree. Cotillard is a wonder. Love her in anything. Gonna have to check this one out. Nice review.