Two Days, One Night
Rapturously received at this year’s Cannes, where it screened in competition for the Palme d’Or (and was narrowly beaten to the prize by Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Winter Sleep), the latest from France’s masters of social realism, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, stars Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose, Rust and Bone) as a woman who must convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so she can keep her job.
Returning to work at a solar panel factory after suffering a breakdown, Sandra (Cotillard) finds the management have forced the rest of the staff to choose between eliminating her or keeping their 1,000 euro bonuses.
She forces a vote but has only a weekend to persuade her colleagues to support her. Visibly desperate, she is a disturbing presence, intruding on her colleagues’ weekends and asking them to give up a much-needed bonus to help a colleague they barely know; all the while still battling the depression and anxiety that saw her off work in the first place.
A parable of anonymity and alienation in the 21st century workplace, the Dardenne brothers seem to be offering a wider commentary on the effects of economic pressures on community in contemporary society.
But Two Days, One Night is also simply a very effective story: with Cotillard’s superb turn as a woman on the edge generating palpable narrative tension.
A tense dramatic situation and a subtly magnificent central performance from Marion Cotillard add up to an outstanding new movie […] impassioned, exciting and moving”