Two Days, One Night | Film Reviews | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly
DONATE

Two Days, One Night 

Not just one magnificent character study, but a dozen smaller, equally fascinating ones

Pin It
Favorite
Two Days, One Night
  • Two Days, One Night

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have carved out a magnificent filmmaking career built on exploring one simple but essential subject: the consequences of and rationalizations for our moral choices. Two Days, One Night continues that pursuit with a film that's not just one magnificent character study, but a dozen smaller, equally fascinating ones.

Marion Cotillard stars as Sandra, a married mother planning to return to work at a solar-panel-manufacturing plant after taking leave to deal with clinical depression. But she learns that the plant is planning to lay her off in a cost-cutting move when co-workers vote to give themselves a year-end bonus rather than preserving her job. Eventually, however, she's able to convince her super-visor for one more chance: A new vote will be taken on the following Monday, giving Sandra the weekend to ask each individual co-worker to give up their bonus so that she can keep her job.

If the premise seems like it would result in a repetitive sequence of scenes, that's part of the point; the arduous process of Sandra making one plea after another, so hard on the heels of such a deep depression, is a key element of the story. Yet, it's also remarkable that the Dardennes invest so much in making each individual response so distinctive, and so understandable. There are no villains among those who can't bring themselves to surrender their extra salary, yet it's still viscerally emotional watching one co-worker break down in shame at having voted against her the first time.

The centerpiece, however, is Cotillard's stunning Oscar-nominated performance as Sandra, which captures the despair of mental illness with wrenching honesty. Cotillard is able to convey the effort involved in simply moving through a regular day, let alone one that requires her to beg for her job. The final moral choice she is forced to make is a unique kind of triumph—yet also perfectly characteristic of the drama the Dardennes always wring out of human frailty.

TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

click to enlarge 4.jpg
Two Days, One Night
Rated PG-13 · 95 minutes · 2014
Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Producer: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Denis Freyd and Delphine Thomson
Cast: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salée, Baptiste Sornin, Pili Groyne, Simon Caudry, Alain Eloy, Myriem Akheddiou and Fabienne Sciascia
Pin It
Favorite

Now Playing

Two Days, One Night is not showing in any theaters in the area.

What others are saying

  • Tags:

    More by Scott Renshaw

    • Red State Man

      Stillwater avoids political caricature, but with a reluctance to get its hands dirty.
      • Jul 28, 2021
    • Fringe Kiss

      Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival presents a hybrid experience of live and virtual experimental works.
      • Jul 28, 2021
    • Movie Reviews: New Releases for July 23

      Old, Joe Bell, Val, Settlers and more
      • Jul 22, 2021
    • More »

    Latest in Film Reviews

    • Red State Man

      Stillwater avoids political caricature, but with a reluctance to get its hands dirty.
      • Jul 28, 2021
    • Blockbusting

      Summer is once again all about big screens and big names.
      • Jul 21, 2021
    • Artists at Work

      Can You Bring It finds emotion in bringing art to very personal life.
      • Jul 14, 2021
    • More »

    Readers also liked…

    • Simple Creatures

      The monster movie Sputnik can't deliver the subtext it promises
      • Aug 12, 2020

    © 2021 Salt Lake City Weekly

    Website powered by Foundation