Interview: Dardenne brothers discuss their new film Two Days, One Night

Q&A: Dardenne brothers discuss their new film Two Days, One Night

Jean-Pierre and Luc discuss their inspirations and choosing Marion Cotillard as a leading lady

Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne spoke to us about their new release, Two Days, One Night, which stars Marion Cotillard as a factory worker trying to keep her job.

What was the inspiration for the film?
Luc: The original idea came 12 years ago, when we read about a real-life case in a big French factory. There was a worker whose production output wasn’t good enough for the other workers to get their bonuses, so that person was let go. We heard about similar cases in Belgium, Italy and USA, and they all raised the question of solidarity. Right from the beginning we thought the story would be about a woman, who has been shunted to one side, and who doesn’t believe that other people would help and support her. And we decided to set it over one weekend, and use the dramatic mechanism of her having to contact her co-workers to see if they would forgo their bonuses.

Why did you choose Marion Cotillard in the lead role of Sandra?
Luc: Previously we’d worked with lots of not very well-known actors because we were casting people to play youngsters. This time round it was a 30-year-old mother. We’d met Marion on the set of Rust and Bone and we wanted to work together. We knew she was a great actress but what interested us was transforming her body, familiar from her other films and from her advertising for Dior, and instead creating a character we’d never seen her play before on film.

‘Put yourself in my place’ is a recurring phrase in Two Days, One Night.
Jean-Pierre: We wanted the viewer to put themselves in the place of Sandra and also of her colleagues, who really needed the money from the bonus. A friend once said that the main character in all our films is actually the viewer, who puts themselves in the place of our fictional characters.

Two Days, One Night is on general release from Fri 22 Aug.

Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit)

  • 4 stars
  • 2014
  • Belgium / Italy / France
  • 1h 35min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jean-Pierre Dardenne/Luc Dardenne
  • Written by: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
  • Cast: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Pili Groyne
  • UK release: 22 August 2014

Sandra (Cotillard) is told that unless she can persuade her co-workers to forgo their much-needed bonuses, she will be made redundant; she has only a weekend to win them over. Unfussy, compassionate and topical drama from the Dardenne brothers, with a touching performance from Cotillard as the steely, pill-popping heroine.