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Two Days, One Night - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Two Days, One Night
Directing: B+
Acting: A-
Writing: B-
Cinematography: B-
Editing: B

Two Days, One Night is the classic example of disconnect between critics, who are gushing over this movie, and mainstream audience interests. Being a subtitled French film about a downtrodden manufacturing worker desperate to keep her job, it fits the standard criteria. To date, the domestic box office take has barely cleared half a million dollars, and this is hardly a surprise.

I'm not opposed to subtitled foreign films myself, mind you; in fact I quite like them, provided they're actually good -- which, to be sure, this movie is. I just wouldn't go so far as to call it great. It was worth going to see for someone like me, who loves going to the movies. But the average movie-goer, who goes a few times a year? This won't even be on their radar, and it doesn't need to be.

So this is for the few of you who like movies about layoffs and battling crippling depression. You might very well think it’s great.

Marion Cotillard earned her second Oscar nomination (which she won't win) for her portrayal of Sandra, the married mother of two who finds herself on a Friday dealing with a staff vote to keep their bonuses rather than allow Sandra to keep her job. This is the choice with which they are presented: they can have one or the other, not both. A coworker convinces the boss to hold a new vote on Monday, this time as a secret ballot so no one will know how anyone else voted. Why the first vote was not done anonymously is a mystery.

Sandra's husband convinces her to spend the weekend visiting all 16 of her coworkers and pleading with them to reconsider their vote for Monday, so she can keep her job. This makes the bulk of the entire film, Sandra ringing doorbells and knocking on doors, only to be met either with compassion or rejection -- or, in some cases, compassionate rejection. It gets very repetitive, and we watch Sandra make nearly identical introductory remarks nearly every time. Eventually, far later than necessary, those introductions get edited out and the next scene starts with the coworker's response. The film is only 95 minutes as it is; perhaps the writer/director team felt the movie would have been too short without that padding.

The responses, for their part, are varied -- to a degree; after all, fundamentally the answer is either yes or no. But in one surprisingly touching scene, a young man breaks down in shame for having voted to have her laid off. In another, Sandra's visit results in a violent fight between father and son.

A handheld camera follows Sandra over the course of the weekend (hence the title), making for some distractingly shaky cinematography. For her part, Cotillard delivers a performance compelling enough to render such things mostly secondary; even as a frustratingly anxious woman prone to crying fits, she commands attention. Sandra is far from the toughest person you've ever met, but Cotillard gives her a vulnerability that gradually turns into strength with each encounter. If there is any one reason to see Two Days, One Night, it is indeed this performance -- the one thing in the film the Academy thought fit to nominate, and justifiably so.

Marion Cotillard fights to keep her job in TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT.

Overall: B
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