The new film from minimalist directors the Dardenne brothers, who have won the Cannes film festival’s top honor twice in their career (only 6 other filmmakers have accomplished that feat since the festival began in 1939). Their films, and especially Two Days, One Night, have always been deceptively simple on the surface, but underneath are raw and poetic and will leave you pondering its messages for long after. Emotionally and stylistically, Two Days, One Night is a modern day counterpart to Bicycle Thieves.
This follows a working class woman who learns that she may be losing her job, as the staff have been asked to choose between receiving a substantial bonus or keeping her on the payroll. She has the weekend to visit her 16 coworkers and try to persuade them to let her keep her job. Through her struggle, which sort of plays out in a series of vignettes, we see glimpses into different family lives, the many ripple effects caused by her actions, her own character arc, and even a rounded portrait of the working class.
In casting Marion Cotillard, this is also the first time the Dardenne brothers have not worked with a complete cast of unknowns. Marion Cotillard is brilliant, as she usually is, and it wasn’t until after the film that I realized how little dialogue she actually has, as she’s incredibly expressive, but without resorting to chewing the scenery or lashing out. It’s a wonderful, subtle performance.