“I don’t exist. I’m nothing. Nothing at all!”
It premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and was screened at notable festivals worldwide. Throughout it’s screenings, the cinematic exploration of Sandra’s fight against the money, power and ego-orientated management of her job, earnt itself a 15-minute-long standing ovation, as well as nominations and wins within a category of 42 awards. And it may be one to stand the test of modern-time.
Watching the film just over a year later feels no more out of place than watching a current news feature. As ever relevant as job-loss, mental health or family life can be, this film explores the present at it’s most delicate. In every decade, man and woman will have a job hanging on a thread. Young people will receive endless emails informing them they never made the cut, whilst others will battle daily within their mind.
Marion Cotillard, though any angst she portrays and hardship she goes through, engages the audience with a raw portrayal of the days leading up to Monday- the day in which a new vote takes place. But the story follows more than an almost-out-of-work mother. Colleagues facing personal battles and a husband who supports her through depression. And for once, depression is not seen as a passing phase nor shown as an intense burst of terror surrounded by an audience never to see this state again. In an interview for The Wrap, Cotillard discussed the lack of information surrounding that of Sandra’s depression. Cotillard took into her own hands, the research she felt one would benefit from and briefly discussed her own close encounter with depression.
There are films which depict a niche, specifically in the Indie genre, and some which are fully dependent on societies evolution. VIVRE SA VIE (1962) depicted the then consumerist culture which Goddard saw of Paris as well as the then culture of prostitution. TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT presents something a little different. A broad spectrum of daily anguishes which can fit in almost anywhere at anytime, but presented in raw style with a fly-onb-the-wall approach. It is a film which breaks away from the dystopian future we are forewarned about in some of the recent movie franchises. It is heartfelt. It is simple. Really simple, and yet it pulls on the heartstrings and makes us wonder.
Sentences and phrases are repeated, pizza is a staple food and Cotillard wears the same outfit for a large proportion of the film, and yet, the Dardenne brothers never tempt me to turn off. Is it because for the majority of the film, I questioned my own morals; what would I do? What would I do if I were her or even them? Was it the bleak but realistic presentation of a recovering-depressive state? Maybe it were the entertaining and uplifting GLORIA (Van Morrison) sing-along.
It is as much of a tight script as it as a tight film. There appears to be no extraneous dialogue, nor any extraneous characters or plot points. Sandra’s job, which at any point in the film barely exists, is under threat. Her own mental health and the quality of her families life is at risk whilst this small-town drama does nothing but explore that story in all its authenticity. Much of this is in the dialogue and yet much of this is in the silence and in the tears.
It’s socially conscious tale with subtle humour in a small town of France, easily recognised as a Dardenne brother’s film and easily watched. | Available on Netflix, the BFI player and Curzon Home Cinema |