Deux jours, une nuit
starring Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Pili Groyne, Simon Caudry
written and directed by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
by Walter Chaw Somewhere in the middle of the Dardennes' Two Days, One Night, Sandra (Marion Cotillard), trying to convince her sixteen co-workers to vote to allow her to keep her job at the expense of a bonus of one-thousand euros, accuses her husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) of turning off the radio because the song is too sad and he fears she's too fragile for it. She turns it back on. It's Petula Clark's French-language cover of Jackie DeShannon's "Needles and Pins," "La Nuit N'en Finit Plus." Shot in the Dardennes style, close and over the shoulder, Sandra looks at Manu slyly for a second, pumps up the volume, and laughs. Cotillard is disarming, as always, and she's so natural in this moment--in all of the film, but in this moment in particular. It's stunning. Her Sandra is absolutely compelling throughout. Her victories are ecstatic; her defeats are deflating. About an hour in, I realized that Two Days, One Night is a fable--a literal one, with a heroine undergoing a series of trials, forced to say the same things like a Belgian Bartleby to a sequence of different people in different situations. Even her exit line at the end of every encounter ("Thank you, goodbye") is identical each time. It's through this repetition that the film finds a rhythm, sure, but also room for Sandra to learn and for Two Days, One Night to paint as complete and sympathetic a picture of depression as there's ever been.