Review: Two Days, One Night
The premise of the latest film from the Dardennes is a little trite, but the execution is as assured as ever
Marion Cotillard: there are enough ruffles and creases to distract from her celebrity
Film Title: Two Days, One Night
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Pili Groyne, Simon Caudry
Running Time: 95 min
Can the Dardenne brothers, Belgian realists par excellence, jointly become the first men to win three Palmes d’Or at Cannes? It’s possible. The premise of their latest film is a little bit trite, but the execution is as assured as ever. An excellent Marion Cotillard, the starriest star to yet do service for the brothers, appears as Sandra, a harassed woman who has recently recovered from a bout of depression, facing up to redundancy from her job at a solar-panel factory. Her boss asks the employees to decide Sandra’s fate in a secret ballot: if they vote in her favour, they will sacrifice their €1,000 bonuses. (Such things do happen, it seems.)
Encouraged by her supportive husband (Fabrizio Rongione), Sandra sets out to visit each colleague and persuade him or her to help save her job. She hears a slightly different story from every person. A few are openly hostile. One breaks down. Many explain that, whereas they want to support her, they must prioritise their own looming financial catastrophes.
Shooting, as ever, with mobile cameras that often lurk behind the actors, the brothers build up unexpected levels of tension as the unfortunate hero overcomes mortification to beg for survival. There are enough ruffles and creases on Cotillard’s exterior to distract from her celebrity. As her tiny odyssey progresses, Two Days, One Night, less searing than their earlier pictures, turns into a moving, though entirely unsentimental, tribute to the resilience of people under the pressures of late capitalism. On a trivial note, it’s a shame the directors persist with their strange habit of having characters pass comically unconscious after a biff on the head. Not that it matters much.