Two Days, One Night
A new picture from the Dardenne brothers is always something to treasure; the Belgian filmmakers sprinkle tiny morsels of humanist truth and insight over a cinematic landscape increasingly dominated by giant things smashing into other giant things. Two Days, One Night continues their near-faultless strike rate, as once more they conjure great drama and emotional resonance from a typically small story.
Marion Cotillard plays factory worker Sandra who, having previously been signed-off for depression, finds herself made redundant after her colleagues are told they can either each receive a €1000 bonus or Sandra can retain her job, and opt for the former. Convincing her boss to allow a second ballot the following Monday, Sandra must over the weekend talk round a majority to vote in her favour.
The setup is simplicity itself. The complexity of characters Sandra faces going door-to-door and nuance of their reactions is where the Dardennes find profundity. Though most express guilt, the bonus represents such a difference to these people that some are unwilling, unable, to let it go. Cotillard perfectly essays the shame of her undertaking while going about it with empathetic dignity. Every minor victory and every bigger setback hits its mark, with some moments overwhelming. It might be slight on the surface, but the stakes couldn’t be higher.