Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review: Two Days, One Night

Image courtesy of Sundance Selects.
It's been a very good year for Marion Cotillard and in the new film by Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, "Two Days, One Night," the actress carries an entire movie on her shoulders portraying Sandra, who is recovering from a bout of depression only to find that her fellow workers must choose between her keeping her job and getting a bonus.

The picture, which is shot in the brothers' recognizable low-key and handheld style, plays almost as a thriller as Sandra spends one weekend tracking down all of her colleagues and attempting to convince them to vote in favor of her keeping her job. Plot-wise, that's about all there is to "Two Days, One Night," but those familiar with the Dardennes' work will find this tale of economic downturn thematically familiar with their previous stories of working class struggles, such as the powerful "L'Enfant" and the heartbreaking "The Son."

During her whirlwind visits, Sandra is met with a wide range of emotions, including crying, sympathy, guilt, noncompliance and even a shoving match. The picture could easily have become repetitive were it not for Cotillar's performance, which gives the proceedings the necessary amounts of pathos and gravitas.

And those who have seen a Dardennes' film or two will know that all will not necessarily be wrapped up by the finale and reality typically trumps happy endings. Their films are about the journey, so to speak, and the ways in which characters become better - or more complete - people through adversity.

Cotillard has been recognized by several critics' groups for her work this year both in this film and James Gray's haunting "The Immigrant" and it's easy to see why. She is one of the finest and most versatile actresses working in world cinema today. Combining her acting talents with the always-fantastic Dardenne brothers makes "Two Days, One Night" a must-see for those who seek out the best in world cinema.

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