The Dardenne brothers and Marion Cotillard deliver with a neorealist riff on Norma Rae.
Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne (Belgium/France, Special Presentations)
French masters Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne perfect their neo-neorealist style with the familiar but affecting Two Days, One Night. Foregoing their penchant for nonprofessional actors, the brothers cast a star in Marion Cotillard. Cotillard plays Sandra, a woman who comes back to work following a serious bout with depression to discover that her position has been eliminated. Down but not out, Sandra is given one last weekend to persuade her colleagues to vote for her job over their bonus.
In the hands of lesser filmmakers, Two Days, One Night might have been either a rote labour melodrama (with shades of Norma Rae) about a suffering working-class mother, verging on financial and psychic catastrophe, or a feel-good comedy about triumphing over adversity. But you can trust the Dardennes to find the kernel of reality in even the most heightened scenario. Sandra’s efforts to persuade her colleagues one-by-one is humanist drama at its finest and most delicate, and the Dardennes coax a nervy, full-bodied performance out of their star.