Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne
Belgium / others
Movie Review: The talented Dardenne brothers, who had their directorial debut in 1987, never needed complex ideas to make an interesting film. Their career got the deserved attention from both critics and audience in 1996 with The Promise, and other pertinent dramas followed with even wider acclaim such as Rosetta, The Kid With a Bike, and L'enfant.
The realism of each scene they depict is almost everything they need to engage us in their contemporary stories where a lot of emotional stuff is going on, compelling us to identify ourselves with the misfortunes and joys of the characters. And that's what happens in “Two Days, One Night”, another observant tale set in Liege, Belgium, that has the power to completely stun with its narrative objectivity, emotional weight, and stupendous performances.
After going through a torturous depression, Sandra is apt to return to work. However, she is informed that her future in the solar panel factory where she works, will be decided soon by her 16 co-workers, who will vote to choose between keeping her in the company or receive a deserved annual bonus for their hard work. Sandra has exactly two days and one night to talk personally with her fellow workers to explain how important is to keep that job for her and her family.
It’s noteworthy how the Dardennes easily manage to play with the viewers’ conscience, putting us in a situation where it would be hard to make a choice, in case we had too. On one hand, I felt sympathy for Sandra, thinking she deserved her place back in the company, while on the other, I understood that for some, a €1000 bonus, which would pay a year of gas and electricity, could be difficult to decline.
Reactions and motives were distinct, making the unstable Sandra oscillate in her already deplorable state.
Even playing a cheerless character, Marillon Cotillard was capable of enchanting in her best performance since “La Vie en Rose”.
The brothers’ direction followed their usual techniques, preferring a modest but realistic closer look into the situation, in detriment of visually intense scenarios or beautiful background landscapes.
Socially pertinent and compellingly dramatized with sadness and triumph, “Two Days, One Night” is a raw and pungent drama to absorb and reflect on.
Besides the nominations for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role by the Academy and Best Film at Cannes, the film was victorious in Sidney, Traverse City, and São Paulo.