Movie Review: “Two Days, One Night”

cotillard“Two Days, One Night” is the latest station of the cross for The Cult of Cotillard, that corner of film criticism that worships the winsome, subtle French Oscar winner (“La Vie en Rose”) as if Marion Cotillard is Juliette Binoche, Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep, all rolled into one. It’s not really her fault, but Cotillard eats acting awards for breakfast.
An interesting but slight melodrama about a depressed woman’s meek pleas to her co-workers that they vote to give up their bonuses and let her get her job back, “Two Days,” in French with English subtitles, is the weakest film to produce an Oscar nomination since…”La Vie en Rose.”
Blue collar worker Sandra is functioning, but just barely. She cooks for her kids, but seems to spend most of her time sleeping or staggering to the sink to swallow pills. We don’t have to be told what we can see on the screen — she’s depressed.
She was laid off from her job building solar panels. And depressed or not, her husband (Fabrizio Rongione), a cook, insists she try to get it back. Sandra was voted out of her job, “Survivor” style, by a callous boss who told her 16 colleagues they could collect bonuses, or keep her as a co-worker. They chose the cash.
That seems very American. But the fact that this was decided by a vote, and that a couple of co-workers have convinced the boss’s boss to have a re-vote? That’s egalitarian. How very French.
Sandra has to pull herself together and lobby every one of those colleagues. Over the course of the weekend, the woman who “doesn’t want your pity” will play the pity card, who refuses “to beg” will beg.
Most of “Two Days, One Night” consists of Sandra, in tank top and jeans, walking, riding the bus or being driven by her insistent husband, to visit these colleagues and finding out just how they feel about her.
Everybody has a story. Everybody “needs” that extra thousand Euros that the cruel Jean-Marc (the foreman) talked them into. There’s school tuition for their kids, a home renovation project, a large family to support. Many of these people she tracks down she fiinds at their second job. One refuses to even see her, one breaks down in guilty weeping, some are snippy and one turns violent.
“I didn’t vote against you,” several suggest. “I voted for my bonus.”
One  and all insist that she “Put yourself in my shoes.” Sandra, too proud to even make solid eye contact, never, ever turns this around on them. Suppose it was you who was the one being laid off? Suppose that shoe was on the other foot?
There’s that lovely “We all used to be in this together” metaphor for working people the world over. And “Two Days” intriguingly suggests other, more justifiable reasons, for Sandra being voted off the solar panel-building island.
For the most part, it’s a slow, flat and unsurprising film. The best one can say about it is that it’s watchably dull. But as last fall’s campaign to earn Cotillard praise for the inept period piece “The Immigrant” gathered no movie awards season steam, cultists championed “Two Days, One Night” and an Oscar nomination was the result.  If you see it and wonder what the fuss was about, look no further than its star, the face that ate up another awards season.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some mature thematic elements

Cast: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione

Credits: Written and directed by  Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne. An IFC release.

Running time: 1:30

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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3 Responses to Movie Review: “Two Days, One Night”

  1. Keith says:

    I’m so excited to see this but I’m starting to give up on it ever opening in my area. Frustrating.

    • It could play wider, thanks to the nomination. But it’s doing middling business, despite overly generous reviews. I dare say word of mouth may have more viewers agreeing with me. Not much to it, unless you’re in the Cult.

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