Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Two Days, One Night [2014]

The Dardenne Brothers, Belgian filmmaking duo who’ve been torchbearers for the cinéma vérité form and socialist realist themes, created a bleak, gut-wrenching, inherently political and formally rigorous examination – with small joys like the characters briefly losing themselves for a few moments to Van Morrison’s rock-n-roll classic Gloria, punctuating the otherwise pervading despair – of the adversarial relationship between organizational objectives and humanity, and between collective financial choices and individual moral ones, in their sublime Two Days, One Night. Sandra (Marion Cotillard), upon returning from a period of clinical depression, finds that she’s on the verge of losing her job. The company isn’t in the best financial state, and hence she has the weekend to reach out to her colleagues and plead with them to sacrifice their annual bonuses – which is vital for each given their working-class backgrounds and economic necessities – in lieu of her not getting fired, when they vote between these two conundrums on Monday. Battling bouts of depression, popping pills to maintain a veneer of false calm amidst the severe stress on her fragile psyche, and struggling to come to terms with the sense of pity she’s possibly evoking including in her well-meaning husband (Fabrizio Rongione), she goes about in this emotionally onerous task swallowing her self-pride. The Dardennes brilliantly juxtaposed the film’s stark realism with a sense underlying tension and even suspense in terms of how these interactions – each a terrific mise en scène in itself – will turn out. Cotillard left me spellbound with her breathtaking and emotionally charged performance of a deeply vulnerable woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and possibly worse, displaying a volley of conflicting and conflating emotions over her tumultuous weekend odyssey.

Director: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
Genre: Drama/Social Drama
Language: French
Country: Belgium

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