Two Days, One Night (aka Deux jours, une nuit) review by Michelle Sommerville - Cinema Paradiso
Let’s not fool ourselves, Two Days, One Night does not have the most interesting premise. However, it is surprising how engaging this film is. It has true meaning, it has good acting, and I give it three out of five stars.
The film follows Sandra (played by Marion Cotillard). After experiencing medical issues, she finds herself fired from her job. That is, unless she can convince the rest of the employees to forfeit their yearly bonuses, which will give the company enough money to keep her on. We are with Sandra for the weekend, and watch as she goes from one employee to another, pleading her case. Will greed give way to selflessness, or is Sandra out of luck?
This film is deceptive in its seeming simplicity. You won’t be on the edge of your seat, or hanging on their every word, but you will walk away and still find yourself thinking about it. Essentially, this film is about greed, how strongly humans cling to money above all else, but also how communities can grow together in times of need. While films that are made purely for entertainment are an important part of the industry, films like these that have a grander comment to make are vital. Not only is the story remarkable, but so was the acting.
It is hard to define it as ‘acting’ when it looked so realistic and genuine; it felt like you were watching a documentary. The dialogue - though translated from French - flowed smoothly. Marion Cotillard - known for both her French and American films - is definitely the best thing about this film. She dominates the film as a powerful, yet vulnerable, lead character. I am not familiar with any of the other actors in the film, but the vast majority of acclaim from assorted sources is directed toward Cotillard.
By not adding fancy effects, we were able to relate more with the characters and story. This is also achieved by the long - seven-minute - shots (of which there were often dozens of takes). Without constant cuts, we don’t feel led by the director, and feel more at-ease.
This is not the first work like this by the Belgium writers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne. They have a special skill for drawing us into everyday events, and giving us new ways to think about them.
Reviews from online and in-print critics, as well as audiences, have been overwhelmingly positive. While I agree it is a good film, I still find the hype to be over-the-top.
I would be surprised if this film got much recognition from international audiences, but I would recommend it to anyone. Do not get caught up in the film’s hype and five-star reviews, and instead just appreciate it for what it is.