Granger on Movies: 'Two Days, One Night'
There's so much suspense in the Dardenne brothers' affecting drama -- for which Marion Cotillard was Oscar-nominated as Best Actress -- that it's tempting to call it a socio-economic thriller.
Set in a working-class community in the filmmakers' native Belgium, it revolves around a stressed-out wife/mother who tries to persuade her factory co-workers to forgo bonuses in order to get her job back.
Recently returned from medical leave during which she was treated for depression, Sandra Bya (Cotillard) discovers that her place at the solar-panel company has been eliminated.
In her absence, the company offered her 16 co-workers a choice: If her job is eliminated, each of them will receive a bonus of 1,000 Euros (approximatley $1,200). If they agree to give up the bonus, she can return. A vote has already been taken, but Sandra's friend convinces the boss to hold another vote Monday.
Encouraged by her stolid, supportive husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione), Sandra must track down and visit her cash-strapped colleagues, hoping to save her job. Will a majority agree to make the personal sacrifice on her behalf?
Embodying weary, worried Sandra, Marion Cotillard (Oscar-winner as Edith Piaf in "La Vie en Rose") radiates tearful anxiety, swallowing her pride (along with large quantities of Xanax), pleading for her peers' pity and grasping at each shred of hope during the weekend-long crusade.
Filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne ("Rosetta," "The Son," "The Kid with a Bike") are renowned for their austere neo-realism, having twice won the Palme d'Or in Cannes. In this case, they detail the emotional impact of each encounter, as several of Sandra's downtrodden colleagues explain how desperately they need the additional 1,000 Euros for school tuition and home repairs.
In French with English subtitles, on the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Two Days, One Night" is a compassionate 8, posing an intriguing ethical dilemma.
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