Raw and realistic! Amazingly beautiful! Tearjerkingly emotional!
These are but a few words to describe one of the best Belgian movies ever made. A motion picture that slowly transforms from an ugly duckling into a proud and graceful swan. A story that will continue to sizzle your brains. A modern-day yet modest masterpiece that will turn even the coldest prick to tears. A cinematographic achievement of cast and crew which deservedly got all the attention at the film festival in Cannes.
If the Belgian brothers Dardenne keep making movies like this, they will soon enough become the finest-ever directors in Belgian history (perhaps they already are).
Deux jours, une nuit tells the story of Sandra, a young woman who clings onto her measly job by trying to persuade her co-workers to drop their bonuses. If not, she’s out on the street!
The power of the movie comes from an ever-present duality that will shift your mind between two camps.
On one side, you have Sandra. She’s a super-sweet girl who will steal your heart the second you lay eyes on her. She only wants what’s best for her and her children. And still, she is the source for all the trouble she lays at the doorstep of her colleagues.
Their sacrifice means she gets to keep her job. A steel-hard glimpse into our modern day selfish world where the average person cares more about abundance in money than the survival of their neighboring mother with children.
On the other side you have the families that are asked to give up a bit of their perks, so Sandra can continue to feed her kids.
From the very first scene you wish the best for Sandra. You want to help her. You hope with every breath that she’ll make it.
The fact that the lead role is performed by the ever-charming Marion Cottillard gives the film that extra bit of charm. Elle est très belle, non?
With a topic ripped right out of today’s headlines, the movie plays into the financial crisis so many people/countries find themselves in.
The truth is: Deux jours, une nuit is about a theme as old as time itself. It’s about poverty. It’s about having to give up that little bit of security. It’s about fighting the odds.
Naturally, the brothers Dardenne are in no means afraid to magnify every single emotion in detail. The cinematography is minimalistic, so much so you forget you’re watching a movie. Sometimes it looks like a reality TV-show. Or perhaps a documentary …
The atmosphere created is often so frantic, so raw and intense, you will get sucked into the movie’s storytelling from the first second till the end. When it’s over it feels like one big hypnoses. It doesn’t matter what kind of a person you are today – everyone will recognize the fear of losing a job and the misery that comes with it.
Luckily the movie gets a chance to breathe between all the drama!
For example, when two people share a quiet moment without a single word spoken. Now those are beautiful still scenes …
As mentioned before, the person who singularly pulls the movie to a higher level is none other than Marion Cotillard! The multi-talented mademoiselle who started her film career in France by being surrounded by a whole bunch of clownesque police officers in the Taxi-movies ultimately found her way to Hollywood with the confusing yet fascinating Inception and the overestimated The dark knight rises. In Deux jours, une nuit she shows her best side.
Marion Cotillard is not just a sight for sore eyes, she plays her part with so much poise it becomes hard to imagine she’s in fact a famous actress. After all, this is not just an acting performance. This is a tour-de-force performance unlikely to be equaled by any French actress in Hollywood any time soon.
Even actor Fabrizio Rongione – no, not an Italian but a real Belgian – deserves a pat on the shoulder. He plays the role of the bon mari who provides constant care for his dearing wife. It’s a good thing his character was not written like an empty egghead. His character has real value in this movie and provides the necessary extra background for setting up a struggling family.
The actor is overshadowed by the présence of Marion Cotillard, but that doesn’t take away the simple fact that his performance is just as raw and beautiful as the rest of the movie!
did you know?
Marion Cotillard had to change her French accent to Belgian for the film.
Give it to me straight:
Many Belgian movies are fun to watch. And whilst some may be called great, very few can be referred to as a masterpiece.
Brothers Dardenne have a career that would drive 95% of all Belgian filmmakers insane with jealousy, but with Deux jours, une nuit they score their best ever motion picture!
The camera positions are childlike simple, so as not to disturb the raw atmosphere of the movie. The story itself may seem boring, but it will end up grasping you by the throat …
Finally the casting is sublime!
Marion Cotillard shines like a diamond from Antwerp. The raw emotions she portrays are so real, so intense, no one will be able to finish the movie with dry eyes.
It’s an especially recognizable situation where a woman goes without a job yet has to take care of her children. You will want to jump in the screen, only to rescue her. It’s been a long time since a beautiful woman has performed so beautifully …