Film Review: Two Days, One Night

I started writing films reviews for this blog because I was getting fed up of reading and hearing critics spout on about how this film portrayed this, or how this moment reflected the classical style of that, and how without the influences of Tom, Dick and Harry this movie would never fulfil its potential. All I wanted to know was this: am I going to enjoy this film?

And Two Days, One Night is the perfect example of this. It has been getting rave reviews. At the time of writing it is currently rated at 92% on Metacritic and 96% on Rotten Tomatoes. But this doesn’t actually tell me anything, because when you start actually reading the reviews, the basis on which people have lofted it to such a high platform, all they are doing is describing the plot or talking about the layers behind it. Nobody can tell me whether I will actually enjoy it when I watch it.

Vote - Two Days, One Night

The plot is simple, but ludicrous. That might be down to the fact that it’s a European film set in Belgium. They may have a different work attitude, a different way of doing things over there; but really, someone goes on sick leave and instead of allowing them back to work, to their job, we’ll put it to a staff vote? Your bonus or their job. I find that a little hard to believe; so let’s ramp it up by having another vote so she can run around trying to convince you that she’s worth employing and that they really don’t need or want their bonuses. Oh and surely Friday to Monday – the time frame in which the film is set – is Two Days, Three Nights?

Now it’s at this point I need to sound a little hypocritical, because, I need to talk about the layers and how this film draws you in – just like every other review. While the plot is a little bit far-fetched in its believability, the issues and questions that it raises as the film progresses are important. It opens up a very big question and statement. That of materialism. How much value do you put on yourself over that of your fellow being. It’s no coincidence that as the film progresses, religion and the whole “love thy neighbour” principle comes into the debate. Whatever the value, why are you worth more than anyone else? Look at it this way: would you eat a piece of cake in front of a starving man begging for food?

It’s the fundamental question of life and morality and, I have to say, this film queries it brilliantly.

Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night

Part of this brilliance is down to Sandra, played brilliantly by Marion Cotillard, who is the epicentre of this debate. And she brings such realism and life to the torture and pain brought on by having to force, rightly, people into answering that fundamental judgement call, that as the film progresses and we see more of her portrayal of the mental destruction caused by asking for pity in the face of a materialistic society, that by the end of the film, you almost feel and believe Sandra to be a real person, that this is a true story.

However, while the film draws you brilliantly into the debate, and Cotillard’s performance is harrowing and strained with absolute clarity and conviction, this film has some major, major problems.

Firstly, it’s ploddy. It’s slow, repetitive and so far beyond monotonous that I’m not sure there is even a word to describe it. We’re lead through one weekend of 16 meetings, 16 recitals of the same story, the same argument, the same script as to why she needs her job. With only short responsive answers to break up the flow. And to make matters worse, the film makers even start to recycle the same route from start to finish through the individual debates. She turns up, they’re not in, they’re round the corner, so off she goes before delivering her monologue. While you can count the meetings on one hand it’s OK, when you’re onto your final foot it’s seriously too much.

The other problem I had with this film is that I don’t speak French. And while that’s normally not a problem, there’s the helpful addition of subtitles, Two Days, One Night is primarily set in the sunny and well lit outdoors. Resulting in a very bright, and light, picture. Therefore, using white writing for the translation meant at times it was impossible to read and so, parts of the film just past you by. It is saved slightly because it’s such a simple and repetitive narrative, that you will pick it up later, but it’s a basic oversight that is distracting and unnecessary.

I’ve come away from this film wondering quite what all the fuss is about. For me, it’s just far too slow, repetitive and simplistic to be overly enjoyable. It’s not a bad film, Marion Cotillard is brilliant, but it has too many issues to really rank as highly as the reviews seem to suggest. Don’t shy away from it, because it’s a good example of foreign film making; just don’t expect to entertained either.

5 out of 10 stars (5 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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