Dusan Magdolen, Kamloops Film Festival Chair, shared his excitement with a full house at Thursday night’s viewing of Two Days, One Night.
“This is the film I have been waiting to see all festival,” Magdolen said.
These were not empty words, as the audience was immediately captured by Sandra Bya’s (Marion Cotillard) personal struggles at Solwal, the solar panel factory where she worked. Award-winning French actress Cotillard was nominated for “Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role” at the 2015 Academy Awards for her outstanding performance in the film. In 2007, she won the same award for the film La Mome. Cotillard is well known for her work in Dark Knight (2012), Inception (2010), and Big Fish (2003).
Sandra is faced with life-changing news when she returns to work after a leave of illness. The operating manager and supervisor informs her that she has been let go while her 17 coworkers receive a bonus of $1,000 €. The viewer then follows Sandra on her personal journey to win over each coworker’s favour before Monday morning swiftly arrives.
As Sandra is still living with a severe case of depression, she experiences intense panic attacks and fights off her own insecurities by coping with Xanax. This film is a snapshot of her nuclear family’s life, as Sandra’s two young children begin to pick up on the irregular actions of their mother and father (Fabrizio Rongione) who himself tries his hardest to assist his wife in any way that he can.
Glimpsing into the lives of her coworkers, the viewer sees snapshots of domestic abuse between a husband and wife, physical violence between a father and son and so many other family units struggling financially and coming to terms with this moral dilemma. With a large sum of excess funds on the line, each coworker deals with the situation differently, struggling to come to terms with agreeing to vote anonymously in Sandra’s favour or remain silent for a new patio deck or to send a child to university.
The film’s theme discusses the growing amount of the global population living in poverty or on the cusp, while the term “middle class” rapidly disappears into a prominent reality. Highlighted throughout the film is an empathic yet irresolute community trying to remain true to morality in an almost autocratic culture. Directors Jean- Pierre and Luc Dardenne have truly lifted the blanket on short-term workplace contracts and non-unionized labour.
One could say there is no happy ending, however Sandra comes to terms with her unemployment as this does not define her, nor her family’s future. With her head high, the last words spoken by the main character are, “We put up a good fight. I am happy.” With English subtitles, this stunning film is mostly in French with some Arabic, which creates moving and thought provoking experiences around a major societal issue.