TIFF 2014 Review: “Two Days, One Night” (Deux jours, une nuit) – 2014


Written by: Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Denis Freyd

Directed By:  Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne

Cast: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Pili Groyne, Simon Caudry

In an economic crisis, people struggle for every penny in order to feed their family and keep their body and soul together.  Almost immediately after returning to her factory job, Sandra is laid off because her fellow line workers voted to receive a bonus of 1,000 euros, rather than keep her on the team. Finding herself in an extremely desperate situation, Sandra finds out that her team leader persuaded her colleagues to vote against her under false pretenses, so she begs the plant manager to hold a second, secret vote. This happens on Friday and the next vote is on Monday. Sandra has two days and one night to convince her co-workers to give up the idea of receiving a bonus for themselves, and instead, to help her keep her job by voting in her favor.

The Dardenne Brothers deliver it again; a very touching, sad, and realistic story of a woman, who, just as many others, has to struggle to survive –  to earn wages to pay for food, for the mortgage, gas, electricity and many other bills. Sandra, played by the incomparable Marion Cotillard, returns home following some mental health problems. She had gone back to work at the factory only a few days, when she finds out that she has been laid off. Instead of giving up, she decides to fight for her rights to the end and to get her job back. On this particular day, Sandra is so fragile. She is left without work and with little hope for the future. The Dardenne Brothers clearly show us what desperation a human being can go through losing everything in one day.

“Two Days, One Night” is directed by French film-makers, who, unlike Hollywood, always bring freshness to the silver screen. The characters in the film are very well developed, and the story itself is very dynamic, making us worry about the heroine; taking her problems up-close and personal. Sandra as a character is very strong, brave, formidable, determined, and willing to swallow her pride to get her mission done, which makes us respect her even more, under the given circumstances.

Academy Award-winning actress Marion Cotillard (La Vie En Rose, Inception, Contagion, The Dark Knight Rises) is the main star in this Dardenne Brother’s film; playing a Belgian mother. Even though every actor in the film delivers a solid performance, Cotillard shines and once again shows us that a role does not exist that she would not be able to perform. In this role, we observe how Sandra suffers, but still remains strong, teaming up with her husband to protect the only thing that brings meaning to her life – her job and her family.

“Two Days, One Night” is an absolute success and delivers a very important message to all of us – that we cannot build our own happiness by destroying someone else’s life, even if the price of that temporary happiness is 1,000 euros. The film makes us ask ourselves, “What if I were Sandra’s team worker? I know that 1,000 Euros can buy many things. What would be my choice?” Sandra makes an important decision and does what she feels is right, while some of her colleagues fail to do so.  It is a sincerely sensitive and touching film which is a complete delight to watch over again.

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