Two Days, One Night (15)

Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne
Picturehouse, Liverpool
From 22 August 2014

Reviewed by Colin Serjent

Two Days, One Night is a 'socialist epic' according to the film critic of the Observer. The Guardian scribe said it is 'a classic trade union drama'. Ho hum, methinks not on both counts...perhaps I was watching a different movie...!! For instance, there was no trade union representation of any sort in the tale.

It is a simple story, set in a small town in Belgium including a number of simplistic observations, or should I say assumptions, made by the highly rated Dardenne brothers.

It focuses upon Sandra (Marion Cotillard). a married woman with two kids, who wants to return to work at a solar panel factory following a nervous breakdown - it is never indicated what brought this about - but her problems are exacerbated by the company's decision to operate a ballot among the 16 workers. They have the choice to either pick up a 1000 euros bonus or decide to make her redundant.

She then goes on a quest to personally meet and speak to all of the workers involved over a weekend before the secret ballot takes place on the Monday.

The dialogue in the film then becomes irritatingly repetitive with Sandra asking , with almost the same series of words, why she would like the person she is conversing with to vote for her in the ballot.

Although she was faced with losing her job, it sounds harsh but I felt little empathy with her - she appeared so self centred. She seemed almost dismissive of her husband's (FabrizioRonglone) genuine support for her in her struggle, not only being faced with going on the dole - as I know from experience it is not the end of the world- but also her constant resource to pill popping. I lost count of the number of times she placed Xana - medication used to treat anxiety and panic disorders - into her mouth, almost at random, and took a swig of tap water from the bathroom sink to swallow it down.

After several of the workers had told her they would take the bonus, her despair led her to attempt suicide by ingesting a large handful of Xana. Implausibly she is released from hospital, after a stomach pump, a few hours later with no mention of her needing any sort of counselling for contemplating such an act, particularly given her previous acute mental problems.

One upbeat moment in the film - there were not many - was Sandra joyously singing in the car along with her husband to Gloria sung by the wonderful Van Morrison.

The most poignant moment of Two Days, One Night occurred when the two of them were enjoying eating an ice cream together underneath a tree where a bird was singing. "I wish that was me," said Sandra.

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