Two Days, One Night
Marion Cotillard stars in a compassionate drama from the Dardenne brothers about a woman racing to save her job
Two Days, One Night has jokingly been described as the Dardenne brothers' version of High Noon. You can see why: an individual is set apart from a community and faces a ticking deadline towards a moment that could mean life or death. The threat here is not from a vengeful gunslinger but from the age of austerity and a recession that has destroyed collective bargaining in the workplace and replaced it with the survival of the fittest.
Marion Cotillard stars as Sandra, a woman battling depression and fighting to keep her job. She has been told that she will be made redundant unless she can persuade the majority of her colleagues to forego their much needed bonuses. She has a weekend to win hearts and change minds ahead of the blind ballot. As she pops pills and seesaws between hope and despair, Sandra confronts her workmates and experiences a range of reactions. Her colleagues are often sympathetic to her plight but torn between self interest and altruism.
This is a typically unfussy production from the Dardennes that finds strength in its simplicity and tension in the plight of an individual whose problems have a universal resonance. The film is not interested in creating heroes and villains but acknowledges that everyone has a reason behind their decision and that they are all simply doing the best they can, a perspective which places it closer to the films of Jean Renoir than the cinema of Ken Loach.
It is no less compassionate or political than we have come to expect from the brothers, although it is more sentimental than their early work. Cotillard is the emotional core of a touching, topical drama as Sandra discovers reserves of steely resolve, and proves just as heroic as Gary Cooper at that fateful hour.
Selected release from Fri 22 Aug.