Two Days, One Night Review

23 Dec


“You have to fight for your job.”

Two Days, One Night (or Deux jours une nuit) tells an elegant, profoundly affecting, and quietly wonderful story about a woman who takes control of her life and influences others in the process. It utilizes a simple narrative–Sandra, who works at a solar panel factory, has to persuade a majority of her 16 coworkers to vote for her keeping her job over them receiving their €1000 bonuses–and it’s better off for it, as this simplicity still allows us to witness a broad spectrum of humanity on display.

After all, the movie is not concerned with passing judgment on anyone she comes across. Everyone needs the money in one way or another, and everyone has a valid reason for needing it: paying for tuition, building a life post-divorce, fixing up the house. Sandra presents her argument, reactions range from violence to simple compassion, and she moves onto the next person; what we see here is a group of working class people who are left to fend for themselves, people who empathize with each other, but are still trapped by circumstance. One question is met with differing perspectives, but a question that each person asks in turn–How many other people will give up their bonuses?–reflects a larger socioeconomic issue. As stated throughout, it’s neither person’s fault that the tough choice must be made between Sandra and the money, and the movie also chooses to keep the higher-up company foreman, Jean-Marc, mostly out of sight.

Yet, the movie is not necessarily powered by railing against injustice. We get a wonderful balance between desperation and determination, and much of that is due to Marion Cotillard’s performance. As the movie progresses, we see the toll everything’s taking on Sandra, the frustration she feels over essentially having to beg, and Cotillard is stellar here as someone simply struggling to stay afloat. Whether we’re seeing a small smile or the effects of her depression, she brings a necessary humanity to the role, and she and the Dardenne brothers craft a moving ending that highlights what the movie is really powered by: a resolute faith in humanity.



-I have not seen any other movies from the Dardenne brothers; if anyone has, I would welcome any recommendations.

-I like that some of the people aren’t home. It’s more realistic and urgent that way. Also, it’s the weekend, and setting this on a weekend encapsulates what all these people are working for (e.g. spending time with family on the weekend). Sandra feels even more like she’s intruding as a result.

-Sandra’s encounter with the soccer coach is probably the most moving scene of the film.

-It’s a shame that Marion Cotillard probably won’t get nominated for her performance here. Same goes for The Immigrant.

Photo credit: Two Days, One Night, Les Films du Fleuve


6 Responses to “Two Days, One Night Review”

  1. Veronika Z December 23, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    Great review! And this being your first film from the Dardenne brothers – I really recommend their 1999 film Rosetta, it’s my favourite from their (otherwise perfect) filmography.

  2. JustMeMike December 23, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    Hi PB – I’ve not seen this one yet, and after checking, it also is true that I’ve no history with the Dardennes Bros.

    But I do appreciate the work of Marion Cotillard, and based on your review, I’ll take it in once the opportunity presents itself.

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