Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit)

Directed By: Luc Dardenne and Jean-Pierre Dardenne

Starring: Marion Cotillard and Fabrizio Rongione

I've been slipping on the foreign film front over the past year.  Sadly, I've not seen any of the nominees in the best foreign language film category for the Oscars.  It's a real shame because foreign films are often hidden gems that don't get the respect or recognition they deserve.  In light of my shortcomings on this front, I'm going to make one last New Year's resolution for 2015 before January comes to an end.  I will see and review more foreign language films this year.  To get things started, I'm checking out Belgian drama Two Days, One Night.  Though it's not in the best foreign language film race, it is in the hunt for best actress gold from the Academy.

Sandra Bya (Marion Cotillard) is a wife and mother of two in the Belgian town of Seraing.  Approximately one year ago, she began suffering from depression and took a leave of absence from her job at a local factory.  Having won her bout with depression, Sandra is now ready to resume her duties.  There's just one problem.  Her employer M. Dumont (Batiste Sornin) and her supervisor Jean-Marc (Olivier Gourmet) have convinced the staff to vote to receive a bonus of 1,000 euros each and simultaneously eliminate Sandra's position.  Facing the prospect of financial ruin and life on the dole once again, Sandra turns to her old friend Xanax.  At the urging of her husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione), however, she convinces her employer to hold another vote and hits the road to campaign for her job.

Two Days, One Night has an absolutely preposterous premise.  It's the Survivor of the job market whereby the audience already knows who has been voted off the island.  There's no way any worker in real life would ever be put in a situation like this.  This fictional company enacts such an incredibly absurd policy riddled with HR violations.  Despite the ridiculous nature of Two Days, One Night, it is still somewhat intriguing to watch Sandra's journey across town unfold.  It's a rather complicated exercise in game theory with a moral tinge.  These employees can either act in mass to make a clear statement to their bosses that unfair labor practices like this are not okay, or they can take the fast money to help meet whatever immediate financial challenges or dilemmas they're facing.  The Belgian drama certainly offers a complex ethical scenario that holds my attention for a while.

Best actress nominee Marion Cotillard doesn't light the big screen up with her performance as Sandra Bya either.  There's absolutely no nuance to her portrayal of this fragile blue collar worker trying to find her strength all over again.  Cotillard just gives us this weak depressed woman who lacks the will to do anything.  There's no spark of determination or will from a woman who consistently rocks the boat for her fellow co-workers time and time again throughout the movie.  There are no peaks and valleys in her performance as her character oscillates between sheer sadness and spirited persistence.  There's no depth.  Cotillard gives a decent performance, but not anything worthy of an award.

Two Days, One Night isn't exactly a high note for my return to foreign language cinema.  With just a decent story put forth here and straightforward acting to convey it, the Belgian drama gets the job done but fails to rise to any mark of greatness.  More than a few glasses of Frascati are needed for this one.  Two Days, One Night gets a 0.06% rating.