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Two Days, One Night

May 19, 2015

Two Days, One Night (2014)
Director: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Actors: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salée

Two-Days-One-Night-Soccer-300x211.jpg (300×211)

Synopsis: Young wife and mother, Sandra (Marion Cotillard), has just been laid off from her factory job after her colleagues voted for a bonus over keeping her on the payroll. A friend has managed to arrange a re-ballot, leaving Sandra just one weekend to lobby her colleagues to reconsider their positions….

Review: Once again, the Dardennes have manufactured another of their compelling parables of Socialist versus Capitalist values, and in many respects it’s their most textbook, honed theatrical offering yet – as laid-off wife and mother-of-two Sandra has one weekend to convince her co-workers that they should forgo the financial sweetener offered to them from the pot of her redundant salary.

As ever with the Dardennes – it’s that unique mix of comprehensible socialist politicking with a friendly ‘thriller’ framework that proves so digestible. Even if at times the work’s didacticism does feel more than a touch obtrusive (the high concept of Sandra having to visit her sixteen co-workers to lobby for their vote feels overly prescriptive in that each of the colleagues are obvious rhetorical ciphers – the loyal, empathetic friend, the aggressive, selfish young buck, the meek wife empowered by Sandra to leave her violent husband), then it’s offset by the sincerity and steadfastness of the Dardennes’ crystal-clear, naturalist sensibility which cloaks that theatricality. The lack of soundtrack, the long takes which draw one into the Seraing milieu, and the banality of the urban soundscape which punctuates Sandra’s odyssey (busy traffic, building work, birds singing) all contribute to this feeling of authenticity – as does Marion Cotillard’s central turn. And it’s in the plausibly gaunt and careworn visage of Cotillard that the Dardennes find a suitable icon for this most commendable of morals on the perils of neglecting social responsibility during these hardened, austere times. (May 2015)

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