I was immediately reminded of the shocking short story, The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, in which a random citizen is selected via a town square lottery – for execution.
In the case of Two Days, One Night, however, the selection is not made randomly. Sandra is selected because she has missed work at her solar panel company due to depression. In other words, she made herself expendable.
The setup for the story is a simple one: 16 employees at the plant have been told that in order to receive their bonus, someone must be laid off. Sandra, played beautifully by Oscar winner Marion Cotillard, must then go to each fellow employee one by one and beg for them to reconsider and take a new vote to keep her employed. For the sake of her children.
This is a painfully honest and thoughtful film about human nature; our conscience, our empathy or lack thereof, our greed, our pride…and ultimately, thankfully, our humanity.
Marion Cotillard is one of the best actors alive. Such a pleasure to watch her pace through her inner emotional life on camera, honest and precise in every beat – as vulnerable an actor as you will ever find.
In the end, after Sandra has fought off her depression with medication, and, at the urging of her loving husband, managed to drag herself to each employee’s home and implore them to allow her to keep her job, the vote is taken.
“We fought a good fight,” she tells him. “I am happy.”
This is as thoughtful a film as you are likely to see. Bravo to French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Dardenne and his brother, Luc, for their insightful screenplay.
Don’t miss it.
And always fight the good fight.