21 January 2015

Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne’s ‘Two Days, One Night’

Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit) was released in the UK in August 2014 – I missed it then but I was glad I caught up. It had a limited release in the US at Christmas time. 

The Dardenne brothers come from Wallonia, the French-speaking southern part of Belgium, where they write and direct fiction films through their production company, Les Films du Fleuve. Two Days, One Night is a simple story – Sandra (Marion Cotillard) is a factory worker who is having to spend a frantic summer weekend lobbying her co-workers to turn down a bonus so that she can keep her job. Will this appeal to fraternité come off? Sandra has a loyal and supportive husband but she has to fight a personal problem as well as her external one.

As in their The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au vélo) the Dardennes portray ordinary lives – those who, according to Valerie Treiweiller, François Hollande in France calls les sans dents, (the toothless) and the Labour party leadership (eg Miliband and Harman*) in the UK have recently taken to calling ‘everyday people.' Two Days, One Night is described as being a French-Italian-Belgian production. Its language is French and the Dardennes’ work is set firmly in the tradition of social realism – nouvelle vague or even Italian neorealism. Life in working class Belgium is tough but nothing like as hard as it was in post-war Italy.

One of the best films I’ve seen in the last year.

* On BBC1 The Andrew Marr Show 18 January 2015, no transcript unfortunately.

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