Two Days One Night
Two Days, One Night, the latest film by Jean and Luc Dardenne, has one of those tidy premises that lends itself well to a concise pitch: a woman has one weekend to convince coworkers to give up their bonuses so that she may keep her job.
To expand on that a little, Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, who having just taken sick leave for depression, must sway a majority of her 16 coworkers in a vote where they have to choose between a bonus of 1,000€ and keeping her as a 17th employee.
The result is a good idea carried by a great performance. We see how physically difficult it is for her when she must confront the first coworker to make her case, and realize that the rest of the film will be an emotional marathon for her. The story immediately lends itself to a structure that must have been a challenging writing exercise. It’s impressive how the Dardennes were able to find different ways to write what’s essentially the same scene about a dozen times. She visits many of them at their weekend jobs, as they’re all of the struggling, working class who are depending on that bonus. It plays out like 12 Angry Men or a sports film where there is a constant tally and you know the end will be a real nail biter.
The support from her husband and some of her colleagues make for several touching scenes in what could have otherwise been an utterly depressing story. Something rather bothersome does occur in the third act that hurts your sympathy for her and should have effectively halted everything, but apart from that this is a solid piece of filmmaking. (Noah R. Taylor)
Tuesday, September 9th, 8:00pm, Winter Garden Theatre
Wednesday, September 10th, 12:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox 2