Monday, February 16, 2015
Recent Watches: Two Days, One Night (2014)
Two Days, One Night,” a Belgium film that I had heard absolutely nothing about before hand. The directors, the Dardenne brothers, are apparently well-known and widely acclaimed. The film picked up universally positive reviews and many awards. You’ll have to excuse me but Belgium domestic dramas are not usually in my wheelhouse. This is one of the things I find genuinely exciting about Oscar season: It exposes me to films I otherwise would never seek out.
Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a young wife and mother of two. Following an undisclosed mental episode, Sandra was given sick leave from her job, at a factory manufacturing solar panels. While she was away, her boss discovered that the factory got along just fine without her. Now the company has given Sandra’s co-workers a choice: Vote to get rid of her and they will all receive a big bonus. Vote to keep her and… Well, they just get to keep her. Her mental state still strained, Sandra has a weekend to convince her co-workers to vote in her favor. Some are sympathetic to her needs but others really need those bonuses.
At the center of the film is Marion Coltier. Coltier has a gift as an actress, where she can be a glamorous movie star if need be. Stripped of make-up, glitz, or glam, Coltier is capable of looking like a normal human being, a working class person barely holding on. Sandra is a character in a constant state of nervousness. She begins the film in a restless sleep before her cellphone obnoxiously rings. (That ringing reoccurs throughout the film, always reminding us what’s at stake.) She maintains that level of fragility throughout the entire film. Sandra is always popping pills, on the verge of shaking apart. Even after attempting suicide, the character has to jump right back into her quest of getting her job back. The threat of economic instability never leaves her. Coltier’s thin frame has never seemed more weak. It’s a worked-to-the-bone piece of acting, Coltier never over doing it. Though it might have been at the expense of other worthy actresses, she earned her nomination.
“Two Days, One Night” isn't totally successful. The subplot about the marriage falling apart contributes little to the story. The structure, which essentially boils down to the protagonist talking to a parade of different people, isn’t the most elegant. However, the film is frequently powerful and wormingly unnerving, built around an impressive lead performance. How something this small got nominated, it’s hard to say, yet it’s obvious a notable film from 2014. [7/10]