Two Days, One Night

Depression -
Injustice -
Two Days, One Night hits too close to home - in a good way
Jean-Pierre Dardenne,
Luc Dardenne
Jean-Pierre Dardenne,
Luc Dardenne
Marion Cotillard,
Fabrizio Rongione,
Catherine Salée
Run time
Les Films du Fleuve,
Archipel 35,
BIM Distribuzione,
France 2 Cinéma,
Radio Télévision Belge Francophone,
Distribution Date
Jun 24, 2014
Best European Actress (European Film Awards), Grand Prix (International Cinephile Society Awards), Best French-Language Foreign Film (Lumiere Awards, France), Best Director (Magritte Awards, Belgium), Best Actor (Magritte Awards, Belgium)

Despite there being no score, no flashy cinematography, and no special effects, Two Days, One Night had my stomach in knots.

Marion Cotillard (Inception, Macbeth) plays Sandra, a wife and mother who has been on sick leave for depression and is told that her co-workers have voted to fire her rather than allow her to return to work. Why? They were pressured to vote between her return and a €1,000 bonus, or possibly even their own jobs. After a co-worker pushes the boss to hold a revote, Sandra suddenly finds that she has two days and one night to personally ask each of the other employees to vote in her favor.  The clock is ticking.

You’d imagine that the story could become repetitive.  Sandra goes to each of her co-workers to make her request in person, but there’s so much variety in the way she interacts with each person that every encounter is distinct and builds on the last.  It’s gripping.

Two Days, One Night moves quickly as Sandra encounters various obstacles that either give her a boost of encouragement or exhaust her already tired and dejected frame of mind. Her task would daunt anyone, let alone a woman that relies on Xanax.

The film’s theme of depression had my stomach in knots.  Like so many others, I’ve been there. Depression is usually either silenced, or glorified. This film simply portrayed it, in all of its ups, downs, and ugliness.

It portrays a gritty reality. The beautiful Marion is shabbily dressed, with little thought to her appearance. She wears no makeup and keeps her hair thrown in a ponytail.

She does keep her home tidy however. The camera follows her through the house as she makes beds, gets food for her children, and otherwise does what she’s meant to do to keep her family together while she’s personally falling apart.

I almost felt like I was watching a documentary rather than a fiction film. The “fly on the wall” aesthetic works incredibly well.  It pulled my roommate and I further into the story.  Again, there was no score to tell us what we should feel which was an eerily excellent choice. It felt incredibly authentic.  Because this is someone’s story, somewhere.

What I loved most about the film was that it shows the strength that comes when one makes the difficult decisions necessary to continue on, to fight.  That’s what makes this story so powerful. It’s not a fun, light-hearted film, but it definitely satisfies the “triumph of the human spirit” category.  It’s human.  It’s real.  It’s a film that makes most “triumph of the human spirit” films feel over-the-top and trite.  Two Days, One Night is an authentic stunner.

About the Contributor

Meet Micah.  She loves tea, travel, and history. When she’s not telling you about her favorite films and books, she’s acting, writing, and working on community projects in the hopes of empowering the voiceless and challenging them to change the world for the better. Originally from Virginia, Micah now lives in London, England.