Marion Cotillard gives what may be her rawest, most powerful performance to date in this typically charged social-realist drama from Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne (L’enfant). Sandra has just the weekend to save her job. The boss at the small plant where she works has given his employees the choice: either they cut someone from the line or there will be no bonuses this year. Having only recently returned from sick leave, Sandra is the one facing the chop. Her union rep is fighting a rearguard action on her behalf and has persuaded the foreman to allow a second vote on Monday morning, but Sandra will have to win over at least a half-dozen of her colleagues to earn a reprieve. It’s hard enough to ask someone to give up a significant amount of cash on your behalf, let alone in these times of austerity – and Sandra’s fragile mental state makes this uphill battle even steeper.
The Dardennes have a knack for wringing maximum resonance and impact from naturalistic stories. If Two Days, One Night initially seems more contrived, we’re soon immersed in Sandra’s plight and the unwelcome predicament she poses to her workmates. It’s like 12 Angry Men taken out of the courtroom and played out on doorsteps, in kitchens and living rooms. Along the way, this riveting drama raises all too relevant questions about solidarity, sacrifice and self-worth.
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