This is kinda the perfect film to watch during these crazy times. Many have said that once we get out from under this that they will take is as a prod to be better. Better in general. Better people. Better to one another. It is that last better which features in this French language film about a woman who needs her co-workers to sacrifice money so she can keep her job. Who would actually do that, you ask? Stay tuned.
The two Belgian directors, who are also brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (Le Jeaune Ahmed, La Fille Inconnue) are very well known in France, but less so over on this side of the Atlantic. After having made several well thought of films without the aide of any real big name stars along came Marion Cotillard. You don’t get much bigger than her in France and she is an Oscar winner, so even neophytes know her. Having her on Two Days, One Night bought plenty of attention to the film. Attention is only half the battle though. You have to follow through with quality and this film does so in spades.
An even temperd, languidly paced film which got plenty of notice. Marion Cotillard got several wins and nominations for her acting including a Best Actress nom at the Oscars. The film itself was awarded several high profile nominations around the world such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival in the U.S., Britain’s BAFTA, France’s Cesar and the Palme D’Or at Cannes.
As the title indicates, it is a film which takes place over 48 hours. While coming to the end of her medical leave due to depression, Sandra (Marion Cotillard – La Vie En Rose, Rust & Bone) finds out from her friend and co-worker Juliette (Catherine Salée – Blue is the Warmest Colour, Keeper) that her immediate supervisor Jean-Marc (Olivier Gourmet – Mesrine, The Son) has recommneded to the bosses that they can do the work with only 16 employees and with Sandra being number 17, she is to be let go. Her co-workers agree to this as they are offered a bonus of 1,000 euros if they vote her out. The vote is 13-3 against her.
Sandra and Juliette get her a stay of execution, so to speak, as they convince Jean-Marc to hold a revote on Monday. It is Friday. So Sandra has two days and one night to save her job.
At the prodding of her husband (Fabrizio Rongione – Le Silence de Lorna, La Religieuse), Sandra goes about approaching her co-workers to see if they will change their minds and give up their bonus, so that she can stay employed. As you might expect, this is going to be an uphill battle. Not only because of the money, but because Jean-Marc had pressured the employees with misinformation.
The Dardenne brothers often have dealt with the working class in their films. No different here as we see an average type family who needs the second salary to survive. But the timely topic of mental health is thrown in here to stir things up even more.
It is quite grim what Sandra has to do. Can you imagine going to your co-workers to beg them to give up a sizeable amount of money so you can retain your job? Tough! Tough for anyone, but if the woman doing this is depressed?!? Well…. that is drama for a film.
Because it is in the hands of the Dardenne brothers and Marion Cotillard nothing here devolves into melodrama. That makes it even more tension filled and poignant. You totally feel for Sandra and the situation she finds herself in. You worry about whether she will make it through due to her frail mental state. Plus the whole aspect of human solidarity…especially in a time like we are going through now…is a rather intriguing one.
A simple story about an average women and family doing what they have to in order to survive.
You can stream this 2015 film on Tubi.