Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night) (2014)

Directors: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Writers:    Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne
Cast:         Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongioni, Pili Groyne
Language: French

Sandra, a young Belgian mother, who is recovering from depression after an accident, discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus in exchange for her dismissal. She has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she keep her job.

It is yet another master-piece from Dardenne brothers who are adept at making profound cinema out of simple premises. For Sandra (Marion Cotillard), it is as much a battle to overcome her depression as it is to keep her job. Because of the state of mind she is in, she is resigned to her fate and is not willing to contact her co-workers to change their mind. She doesn't want to go beg for her job and draw pity but her husband and a co-worker who supported her in the previous vote advises her that there is nothing wrong with asking since the foreman at her workplace is working actively against her to swing the vote. It is something that we see when it comes to people's reactions to various events-when you are far removed from feeling the effect of a tragedy, you are not bothered by it. That is why the shrug reaction to famines in Africa and concern when something that can affect you also like Ebola comes up. Same can be said about ISIS, the developed world started reacting only when they started beheading Western journalists making empty threats about terrorist strikes. By making herself visible to people who are going to decide on her job, she is making them feel affected by the choice that they are making. The whole exercise had a tinge of '12 Angry Men' vibe to it in terms of reversing what appears to be an insurmountable odds. One can rightly question whether any manager would be stupid enough to put such a scenario for vote since it is a recipe to create workplace problems. But it is based on several such incidents happening in places like USA and Italy along with Belgium.

By the end of the film she is able to win only one of her battles-the important one of overcoming her depression. The film can be at times manipulative and feel-goodish but it is in good taste. For a Dardennes film, it has got plenty of dialogs and it is another great performance from Marion Cotillard who is among my favorite actors. Her character arc is not too dissimilar from the one in 'Rust and Bone' but this time it is a much simpler story. Incidentally, Dardennes met her on the set of 'Rust & Bone' which they were set to co-produce and the the conversation led to them offering her a role which she accepted without reading a script. This is the first time Dardennes are working with a non-Belgian actor-let alone an A-list star. The film was set in French speaking part of Belgium where the Dardennes where born and raised. 

Rating: 4.5/5