“Two Days, One Night” Review

two-days-one-night-posterTwo Days, One Night [2014] – ★★1/2

Two Days, One Night is a critically acclaimed French-language film directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, probably better known for their previous film The Kid with a Bike (2011). The plot is uncomplicated: Belgium; a depressed married mother of two Sandra (Marion Cotillard) is having problems at work. The management of her solar-panels-making company proposed to make Sandra redundant if the majority of the staff (9 out of 16 workers) agrees to do so (there will be a secret vote). If the majority votes for Sandra to be redundant, each of the workers will receive €1,000 bonus, but will also be required to work slightly longer hours. In that vein, the film portrays the two days and one night which Sandra spends trying to convince her co-workers to vote in favour of her staying with the company (and against their bonus).

One of the good things about Two Days, One Night is that Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne maintain their focus, and that focus is on human face-to-face interactions as opposed to some emphasis on sub-plots or sub-characters that could “hijack” the whole film and turn it into something else. Throughout the whole story, all that the main character does is going door-to-door, persuading her co-workers to give up their bonus for her place in the company. Yes, it is simplistic, and yes, it becomes a touch repetitive, but, partly, this is where the charm of the film resides. Another good thing is the magnificent performance by Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose (2007), Rust and Bone (2012)). She carries the movie on her shoulders and all alone, delivering a master-class scenes. 

The main weakness of the film is that the background to the story is quite unrealistic. Even considering all possible job-search hardships, one has a feeling when watching  this film that Sandra does not live in a European country, Belgium, but in a fantasy world where there are no human rights, no employment law or employee’s rights, no benefits for unemployed or for families which have children, and she interacts with some “sub-human” cynics who are prepared to see their co-worker and friend suffer and get fired than part with their coveted €1,000. Besides, Sandra humiliates herself so much in the process of persuading her co-workers to part with their bonus that it seems like this is the only place in the world where she could work, that she would never ever find a new job and she has no devoted husband at all, or no helping hand at hand. This is all not true, and the plot simply beggars belief. Besides, each time Sandra asks for help from her co-workers, each of them first asks: “How many other workers will be prepared to lose their bonuses for you?” Now, no elaboration is needed here… If Sandra lived in some country in Africa with no legal regime and had no husband with lots of children, maybe one can re-consider her predicament, but who would want to work for a boss who proposes such an inhuman bonus-giving arrangement at work, anyway? One call to higher authorities and that boss of the solar-panel factory would be the one looking for a job all weekend for treating his employee in a way which undermines her human dignity, and the right to be treated fairly and respectfully at work. All this detracts from the overall drama of the film, making the process of sympathising with Sandra difficult and the overall story less heart-breaking.

If one thinks a bit more about it, one would realise the film’s ridiculous premise, and that also means that one would feel much less for Sandra and her troubles, especially the Sandra in the movie who seems to be more concerned with having her next medical drugs’ fix (intentionally overdosing once), then thinking about her children’s future (especially in case of her death). However, Two Days, One Night is still a film worth watching just for Marion Cotillard’s great performance. 


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Excellent review, Diana. I love Cotillard, but this one I think I’ll pass.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      Thanks! Cotillard is just brilliant here, and I tried hard to root for her in this movie, but, overall, I found it hard to believe in her disastrous circumstances in the film – they are actually not at all as bad as the director/writers want us to believe. But, you may as well like it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. realthog says:

    A great review of a movie that I actually enjoyed quite a lot.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      I do understand why you liked it, but the plot just didn’t work for me.


  3. Shame you didn’t like it more although I hear what you’re saying. Nice write-up mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I hear what you’re saying about the plot – it is a bit much – but it also kept me glued to the screen. I kept thinking, “How will Marion Cotillard convince this next person?” It’s a great film to see once, but it’s too emotionally draining to watch again.

    Her performance is mesmerizing, like you said. All she basically does in this film is sit in a car and take pills and cry, and you can’t take your eyes off her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. dbmoviesblog says:

      That’s exactly it – what you’ve said: “you can’t take your eyes off her”. I think you have to be really natural, to act like this and to have such an impact on the audience.

      Liked by 1 person

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