Film Review – Two Days, One Night (2014)

Two Days - postTitle – Two Days, One Night (2014)

Director – The Dardenne Brothers (The Son)

Cast – Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salee

Plot – Solar panel workshop employee and mother Sandra (Cotillard) has recently been laid off from work. When she discovers that her boss is willing to allow her co-workers to vote to keep her on or earn a monetary bonus, Sandra has a weekend to convince these people she deserves to be kept on. 

“Every time I feel like a beggar, a thief coming to take their money”

Review by Eddie on 30/07/2015

Belgian natives the Dardenne Brothers have long been renowned for sturdy character studies and while their new film Two Days, One Night unravels at a pace not dissimilar to watching a snail race a sloth there is little questioning the power the film holds when everything comes together in a realistic and uncomplicated manner.

The Dardenne’s last film The Kid with a Bike was a small scale yet affecting tale of childhood and class segregation and Two Days feels like a spiritual follow up to that film in many ways. Anchored by a rightfully Oscar nominated turn by the incredibly consistent Marion Cotillard, in another one of her unglamorous and emotionally wrought turns, Two Days finds a groove that allows it to create tension and intrigue by nothing more than a look or a glance or in moments of somewhat sparse dialogue.

It’s an impressive feat to make a 90 minute feature out of such a slight human interest drama and the character of Sandra isn’t always wholly likeable (her depressive nature is somewhat frustrating) but with Cotillard commanding the screen and a wealth of interesting and relatable human figures Two Days remains tense the whole way through even though it’s central story sometimes threatens to become too melodramatic for its own good.

An issue that to me is almost too hard to ignore in this particular story is the fact that we are made to believe Sandra’s co-workers are so desperate for $1000 Euro’s (equivalent to $1300 Australian) that they would rather see her sacked from a full time job. I’m no master of foreign affairs or economical climates but is life so tough in Belgium that people would be desperate to hold onto this quite small in the scale of things money bonus? With this in mind I found my overall investment and enjoyment in seeing this drama unfold diminished as I couldn’t but help thinking there needed to be a little bit more on the line in regards to fellow humans inflicting pain on someone that has already had their fair share of various torments.

A fine portrayal of human drama and a film which once more features a must see turn from Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night has its fair share of tension, intrigue and emotion and a fantastic conclusion, yet there is an undeniable weakness to its main plot device and it hampers it’s overall impact and believability when everything else around it feels so real and on point. For lovers of slow paced and sombre human dramas of the foreign film ilk however, this will likely be a new favourite.

3 and a half rock station sing-alongs out of 5

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13 responses to “Film Review – Two Days, One Night (2014)

  1. A line in your review just cements this film more and more as the ideal morality play.
    You question if people are really desperate for a measly thousand bucks, and I commend you for having such positive outlook on your fellow human.
    Ten bucks, a thousand, a million.
    The figure not much matters. The light here shines on individuals who would rather improve their own set of being, than be charitable to somebody who is having a hard time-after all, there’s a couple who does not really need the money, as they will just use it to add an extension to their already large house.

    While it is easy to declare tolerance and acceptance, the real proof of character comes when it is time to demonstrate it. Maybe, had Cotillard been one of the best employees there and a great people person, it had been different.
    But you mention how it was hard to empathize with her because of her constant depression state. And so it is.
    But if we are truly to do right by our neighbor, it should not matter how many figures the check has, or whether the other person is good or bad.
    We should just make the effort to do the right thing.
    And because not many people do that, it is extremely uncomfortable once you see it play out on the screen.

    It could be you, it could be me.
    This is definitely us.

  2. As a truck driver once told me, and I quote, “It’s not a matter of money, man, it’s a matter of fuck it.” Just thought I would mention that, not trying to be a sage here.

  3. I’ve got ‘Two Days, One Night,’ sitting in my ‘to watch’ pile; I’ve generally heard good things about the film too! I should really get into it :/ Great review, as always!

  4. I’m with you on this. Cotillard was great but I also thought the plot just didn’t completely make sense.

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