The headlines keep reminding us that the economy has recovered. But try telling that to the millions of people still out of work, scraping to get by. The latest gut-punch import from the filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne may be set in Belgium, but it has a timeliness and urgency that feel right at home in America now. The peerless Marion Cotillard stars as Sandra, a mother, wife, and factory worker who learns that she’s been laid off after taking a leave of absence from her job due to a nervous breakdown. Her co-workers were given the option of either letting her go or forfeiting their year-end bonuses, which in most cases are sorely needed. Desperate to hold on to her paycheck, she persuades her boss to hold a revote and spends the weekend going door-to-door, hat in hand, campaigning for compassion with her husband, Manu (Fabrizio Rongione), by her side. In such previous films as Rosetta and Lorna’s Silence, the Dardennes have shown themselves to be masters of unvarnished, closely observed human drama. But Two Days, One Night may be their most philosophically poignant and thorny film yet. With her wide, sad eyes and quiet air of embarrassment tinged with pride, Cotillard’s Sandra is asking a question not only of her colleagues but of the audience, too: Are we willing to put aside our own self-interest for the sake of empathy? Are we cowardly or brave? Cotillard’s exquisite performance makes you feel every ounce of the weight of that dilemma. A-
Marion Cotillard IN Two Days, One Night
Genre: Drama; Starring: Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione; Director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne; Runtime (in minutes): 95; MPAA Rating: PG-13
Posted January 9 2015 — 12:00 AM EST
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