Montag, 30. Juni 2014

Filmfest München: Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night)

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have always worked with the simplest of plot constructs and it's no exception with "Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night)", a movie dedicated solely to a woman's weekend-long attempt to persuade her co-workers, one by one, to give up their bonus in order to stay employed. It's to the Belgian maestro duo's credit that even within such minimalist narrative perimeters they manage to pack their usual wealth of insights into human nature, here again challenged by choice and circumstance, so the end result is realist cinema at its most relatable and involving. But it must also be said that this script, while honest and reflective in its depiction of the less fortunate, is not the most eventful or inventive the Dardenne brothers have ever cooked up. Its final act also fares dangerously close to Hollywood-esque motivational writing so doubts of contrivance would not be wholly unjust.

Apart from believability issues due to her million-dollar looks, lead actress Marion Cotillard's performance as the depressed and soon-to-be-jobless Sandra is of unimpeachable greatness. As a person she's perceptive enough to know that it's not the incessant crying that best describes sadness and desperation, but the shame, the exhaustion, the debilitating fear, the deadly repose; and as a performer she has the faculty to access and channel all those expressions of emotional hollowness to invite you into her character's dreadful inner terrain. Possessing such intelligence and skill, she can break your heart more with a smile than those tears that just seem to pour out of her like tap water.

Too standardized and calculated to be called movie magic, this is nonetheless lovely work and, for all its faults, an urgent, eloquent reminder for more empathy and kindness.

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