Two Days, One Night's inherently repetitive, but nevertheless organically engrossing and suspenseful narrative structure gives the Dardennes the opportunity to survey the emotional complexities felt by both Sandra and her co-workers, each straining to merely get by. The power of the brothers' latest film comes from the filmmaker's non-judgemental stance on each character's reaction and ultimate decisions, with many expressing guilt but admitting they need the money for either legitimate personal gain or material benefit. This allows the audience to further engage with and question the moral intricacies the plot yields. Would you take the money or aid a person in desperate need?
Cotillard is outstanding here, playing a woman debilitated by a mental illness she's desperate to keep under control and motivated by a desire purely to work and provide for her family, to be a better person. "React instead", Manu tells her when she's inches from admitting defeat, and watching her both slowly unravel whilst remaining resilient practically in real time, with her anxiety etched across her anguished face, is the film's great strength. Though it ends on an atypically neater note compared to their earlier, grittier films - signs that they're softening with age, perhaps - Two Days, One Night is a powerful and absorbing film fuelled by natural tension and a discernibly humanist touch.
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