Thursday, December 18, 2014

Indie Review: Two Days, One Night (2014)

                    Manages To Excel And Have Me Hooked Already After 'One' Watch

     Usually whenever a film tries not to be judgmental and give a right or wrong answer to the audience, it is up to the audience to discuss and decide it for themselves. Two Days, One Night falls under that category and while it may not cause a fiery debate amongst viewers, it will certainly have them formulating the answers on their own.

     Two Days, One Night follows the story of Sandra (Marion Cotillard) who has been told that she is about to be laid off from her job because her co-workers were given the chance to either accept a bonus pay or let her stay with the majority voting for the bonus. That is until her boss decides to create a new ballot the following Monday and Sandra has a couple days to convince her co-workers to give up their bonuses to keep her off the streets.

     First off, I'll get into the direction by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. What was so great was how they were able to take a film that is literally about a woman roaming around trying to convince people to give up their bonuses and yet within about 30 minutes, I found myself pretty hooked. It might be because they incorporate several long takes to pull the viewers in. Due to the film's subject matter, it might be a hard draw, but thanks to the Dardennes, they might still keep you watching.

    Next, I'll get into the wonderful performance by Marion Cotillard. Interestingly, Cotillard is able to give us an idea of what her character is going through on an external and internal level. What I mean is there are scenes where is says what she feels yet there are others where she is processing the different reasons as to why her co-workers can or can't give up their bonuses. In those scenes, if you look closely at her eyes, you notice her desperation and lack of confidence. Yet, in her quiet moments, you get the sense of her doubt and frustration. Much like Agata Trzebuchowska's performance in Ida and Emily Watson in Breaking The Waves, Cotillard's work here is the kind they should be teaching in acting school. She is just that good.

    Another thing that I thought was very nice was how the film is like one big gray area. By that, I mean no character is really right or wrong. If one co-worker denies giving up their bonus, you want to scoff at them, yet you understand why they refuse to give it up. Plus, the character of Sandra is essentially an albatross yet she is angry for being that way. By convincing people to give up their bonuses, they will struggle to get by yet Sandra is just doing what is best for her loved ones. The film and the Dardenne brothers never judge both sides of the equation.


     Overall, Two Days, One Night is a well-crafted and rather simple foreign gem that still manages to hook you from the beginning. It has its lead actress carry the weight of the film on her shoulders and not only does Cotillard not disappoint, but I cross my fingers that hope is not lost for her in this year's Best Actress race at the Oscars.

     Would I Recommend It?:
     Certainly not to everybody. It has subtitles and is pretty talky. But it is worth watching for Marion Cotillard's tour-de-force performance.

Grade: A