Today I saw Two Days, One Night, starring Marion Cotillard.
Every one of us can name a time in our lives when we've been at the mercy of others—whether it be due to issues of health, finances or circumstance. The vulnerability that we feel in those moments is gripping.
Take that vulnerability and pile it on top of a woman who has just recovered from a terrible spell of depression and you have our main character here, Sandra (Cotillard). Her horrible boss has just asked each employee at her place of business if they would prefer to get a bonus or keep Sandra on the team. Financially, the business can't do both. Naturally, the majority choose the bonus, but after a confrontation with Sandra (and her supportive colleague), the boss agrees to have a 're-count' via secret ballot on Monday in case some felt pressured to vote against her.
With the eleventh-hour appeal granted, Sandra sets about (with the help of her husband) to visit each of her colleagues over the weekend and convince them to change their vote. This is a humbling feat, to say the least.
Sandra is the perfect hot mess; she wears bright-colored tops that contrast her unwashed hair and ashen face, only intensifying the pain she feels each time she has to 'beg' someone she works with for a second chance. She drinks water almost compulsively (choking down the pills that dull her feelings) and passively admits defeat when some say there's no way they will change their vote.
Marion Cotillard plays her straight, as the directing team of the Dardenne brothers always command. She's clearly the most beautiful person on screen, but you wouldn't know it from her demeanor. She just seems like someone who loves her family and tries harder than most to get out of bed each day.
The entire film is really a series of uncomfortable conversations, but as find ourselves shifting in our seats, we realized we're also glued to them—not even dreaming about getting up until we learn the outcome.
The gift the Dardenne brothers have for making us care about those down on their luck (see: The Kid with a Bike and L'Enfant for further reference) still burns bright.