Two Days, One Night Parent Review
When Sandra (Marion Cotillard) returns to work after a medical leave, she is surprised at the unwelcoming reaction of the staff. The problem, according to her colleague Juliette (Catherine Salée), is related to the company’s productivity. It appears that it did not decrease while she was away, so her boss Monsieur Dumont (Baptiste Sornin) and her supervisor Jean Marc (Olivier Gourmet) have concluded they really only need 16 employees—not 17. With profits in mind, they offer the crew a deal: If they all agree to layoff Sandra, management will give each of them a bonus of 1000 Euros.
The outcome of their vote is a bitter blow to Sandra, whose mental health is already fragile. With much encouragement from Juliette, she approaches her boss and asks if the question of her dismissal can be considered again—this time by secret ballot and without the influential presence of the company’s strong-willed supervisor. M. Dumont agrees, however Sandra only has the weekend to try and change her fellow employees’ minds.
Sandra’s husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) is eager to support her in the endeavor of contacting her workmates in person (which hopefully will spark their sympathy). Not only does the couple need Sandra’s wage in order to support their young family, but he also feels the exercise might help build the confidence his wife has lost during her battle with depression. It is a daunting task to undertake—and it is a lot of urban and rural Belgium to cover in only two days and one night.
Feeling like she is begging, the trembling woman bolsters her courage by swallowing some extra prescription medication. Still, that hardly prepares Sandra for the various reactions she is about to meet. Some are friendly and sympathetic, others angry and even violent. Many of her co-workers are as financially desperate as herself, while others feel they deserve the cash because they did her job while she was gone. The journey proves to be a rollercoaster of emotions—and more than once Sandra pleads with her husband to be let off.
Viewers will also feel the highs and lows of Sandra’s quest. Marion Cotillard plays her part so naturally that she embodies each of us at our most vulnerable. It is hard not to put one’s self in her shoes, and wonder what price our friends and acquaintances might put on our relationships.
Another reason the story is so compelling is because it captures such a sense of reality. There is no musical score to remind you that you are watching a movie. And the neighborhoods Sandra visits never look like sets, nor do the people she talks to ever feel like actors.
This French language film is likely best suited for older teens and adults. Along with the challenge of having to read subtitles, the plot contains many mature themes including unemployment, depression and domestic disputes (a couple of scenes depict arguing, fighting and hitting). A married couple discusses their sex life (with few details). And a suicide attempt is shown.
Yet audience members who come along for the ride may learn as much from Sandra’s experiences as she does. Witnessing the best and worst of human nature, both in herself and in others, Sandra discovers she still has choices, no matter what fate might throw in her way. It is an inspirational and empowering message for all traveling the bumpy path of life.Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne. Starring Marion Cotillard, Fabrizio Rongione, Catherine Salée . Running time: 95 minutes. Updated August 25, 2015
Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Two Days, One Night here.
Two Days, One Night Parents Guide
Note: Two Days, One Night is a French language film with English subtitles. It opens in limited release on December 24, 2014 (USA) and on January 16, 2015 (Canada).
Talk about the movie with your family… Why is it so hard for Sandra to stand up for herself? Why is it difficult for most people to self-advocate? How do those who care about her try to help her gain the required confidence?
As Sandra talks to her coworkers, she meets with various responses. How do they reflect the many facets of human nature? Do some of their reasons for helping or not helping seem more reasonable than others? Which ones do you sympathize with? Which ones just feel like excuses? Did any of the reactions surprise you? What would you do if you were asked to give up a large sum of money in order to help a friend?
Through most of the film, Sandra feels at the mercy of her fate. At what point does her perspective change? How can attitude affect the way we see a situation? What things do you think you could change so that you might have more control over your future?