The picture concerns the strivings of the individual in a prosperous but economically weakened country (Belgium), an intact but imperfect economy. Sandra (Marion Cotillard) suffers from depression but, an employee at a solar panel factory, she is ready to work again after sick leave. The factory owner has seen that 16 workers, not the usual 17, are sufficient for operating the business and so decides to have his underlings vote on whether to keep Sandra at the company or receive a helpful bonus. I mentioned an economically weakened country, but one realizes what a morally weakened country it can be as well.
Sandra needs the job; most of her fellow workers need the bonus, or believe they need it. Nevertheless, driven around by her husband and worriedly popping meds, our heroine visits these people to meekly ask them if they will vote to retain her. It’s an honestly depicted occurrence.
There is very good acting in the film, with brilliance from Cotillard. “Sandra’s mettle, almost imperceptibly, strengthens” (Peter Rainer). Yes, it does, and Cotillard ably exhibits this. Usually the character seems on the verge of living soundly and contentedly, though not without Xanax, which surely has a lot to do with having a splendid husband (Fabrizio Rongione) and two pleasant children. Family life is not working against Sandra.
Despite a couple of flaws, Two Days, One Night is a sturdy and well-intentioned jewel. Fortunate is the city that provides a showing.
(In French with English subtitles)