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Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night) (2014)

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Indiewire:

Though known for their personal, intimate and raw dramas, which often feature lesser known or unknown talent, when we spoke to the Dardenne brothers last spring, they acknowledged that big Hollywood names had approached them to star in their films. "We can't say who in particular, because we may work with them, we don't know. It's up to them to say," Luc Dardenne stated. And whether or not Marion Cotillard came to them first or the other way around, this is nonetheless a massively exciting development.

The Oscar winning actress will lead "Deux Jours, Une Nuit" ("Two Days, One Night"), the new film by the Dardennes. Penned by the pair (natch), the story will center on Sandra who, with the help of her husband, has one week to convince her work colleagues to turn down their bonuses so she can keep her job

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Everyone's excited by this news, but I'm a little worried. I think the Dardennes' aesthetic has worked well without "stars" who might bring too many viewer preconceptions to the stories. I guess I think of the Dardennes' style as being anything but star-driven, if that makes sense.

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Yeah, they seem to use the Bresson format of casting unknowns so the audience won't have any built-in expectations. At the same time, though, some of their go-to actors (Renier, Gourmet) have become well-known because of their Dardenne experience.

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Everyone's excited by this news, but I'm a little worried. I think the Dardennes' aesthetic has worked well without "stars" who might bring too many viewer preconceptions to the stories. I guess I think of the Dardennes' style as being anything but star-driven, if that makes sense.

Well, I know what you mean - but I'm still looking forward to this. I love Cotillard, and she's still more comfortable in French so this could be a good fit. At the very least it will be interesting, even if it's an interesting failure. I'm all for directors trying something new - I would definitely buy a ticket to a Dardenne brothers Star Wars film, for example.

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Cannes reviews are coming in, and they're very positive:

Indiewire

Masters of pacing, the Dardennes typically rely on lengthy tracking shots that follow their protagonists as they walk from place to place. That approach resurfaces here, but the minimalist setup for "Two Days, One Night" affords them the opportunity to sit still just as often and let the actors do the heavy lifting: As Sandra visits one co-worker after another -- at home, working odd jobs, hanging out with their families-- seeking at least nine supporters to guarantee a successful vote, many of the movie's key conversations involve Sandra facing another person and steadily gathering the courage to ask for support, then bracing for a wide variety of reactions. 

Though it belongs to a filmmaking precedent invented by the directors themselves, "Two Days, One Night" borrows a page from no less than "High Noon," with Sandra playing the role of a fragile Gary Cooper battling to rally the town in her favor. And just as that movie culminated with its lead going solo for the eventual showdown, Sandra -- no matter the words of encouragement offered by some of her colleagues -- must eventually face down her boss alone.

 

 

Variety: 

Marion Cotillard blends into the unfettered working-class environs of “Two Days, One Night,” a typically superb social drama from directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Rich in the Dardennes’ favored themes of work, family and the value of money, and infused with the suspense of a ticking-clock thriller, “Two Days” may be dismissed by some as more of the same from the Belgian siblings who rarely stray far from the industrial port town of Seraing. Yet within their circumscribed world, the Dardennes once again find a richness of human experience that dwarfs most movies made on an epic canvas.

 

 

The Guardian:

The Dardennes have made a brilliant social-realist drama with a real narrative tension which is something of a novelty in their work. It is actually reminiscent of Ken Loach's Bread and Roses (2000) with Adrien Brody as the union campaigner who tours around persuading terrified cleaning workers to join a union: he is (at least at first) a deeply upsetting presence. As for this solar-panel company, it appears to have a union in that a vote has been forced which the management will abide by, but it is a union which manages and regulates the decisions of those above them, and they are certainly not united enough to reject out of hand the insidious Bonus/Sandra choice. Yet movingly, solidarity is what the film is about; solidarity is what Sandra is trying to achieve as her emotional state comes to pieces, through a majority vote in a democratic election.

 

It is another great performance from Marion Cotillard, who does not look out of place, like a starry A-lister, in the more austere Dardenne habitat. She is restrained and dignified, and again Cotillard shows what a marvellous technical actor she is: every nuance and detail is readably present on her face. She is compelling and moving – and so is the film.

 

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Barbara Scharres at RogerEbert.com:

 

To her great credit, Cotillard disappears completely into the role. This is not a slumming turn by an international star, but an appropriately underplayed performance. Sandra’s need may be the driving mechanism of the plot, but the collective economic circumstances of the ensemble of workers portrayed remain the focus of the film.

 

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Jeffrey Wells:

 

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne‘s Two Days, One Night, which screened early this morning at the Cannes Film Festival, is exactly what I expected — a low-key, no-frills, ploddingly earnest drama about factory workers being asked to make a choice between humanity and expediency after a co-worker (Marion Cotillard) has been told she’s being laid off. It’s a decently made but far-from-inspired film, roughly on the level of the Dardennes’ The Kid With The Bike. Yup, that’s right — the Corleone brothers of the Croisette have hit another line-drive single or ground-rule double. Now watch everybody cream over it.

 

Trust me — if this film had been made by a no-name journeyman from England or Germany or Russia, it would barely be noticed much less honored with a Cannes competition slot. But it’s that Dardennes legend, you see. That stamp means everything. . . .

 

The bottom line is that the movie is almost entirely about medium shots of people talking. With the exception of a couple of brief physical conflict scenes and a mobile musical sing-along or two, it’s all done in moderation. The film delivers a somewhat unexpected ending with a certain ethical/moralistic finale that I agree with (i.e., it sends the right message), but I don’t think this makes the film an especially strong or profound work. The best I can say about Two Days, One Night is that (a) it’s cinematically sufficient but no great shakes, and (B) its values are ones that I share and support. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to say. I know that I won’t be strong-armed into submitting to the Dardennes by soft-pedaling my reactions.

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roughly on the level of the Dardennes’ The Kid With The Bike.

If it really is on the level of The Kid With A Bike, I'll be quite happy to "cream over it".

Edited by Rushmore

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roughly on the level of the Dardennes’ The Kid With The Bike.

If it really is on the level of The Kid With A Bike, I'll be quite happy to "cream over it".

For some bizarre reason, I don't think The Kid with a Bike is the Dardenne film most critics cream over.  I've gotten the impression that Le Fils and L'Enfant are generally regarded as their two masterpieces.

 

 

For the record, I think The Kid with a Bike is every bit as good as those other two films.

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roughly on the level of the Dardennes’ The Kid With The Bike.

If it really is on the level of The Kid With A Bike, I'll be quite happy to "cream over it".

For some bizarre reason, I don't think The Kid with a Bike is the Dardenne film most critics cream over.  I've gotten the impression that Le Fils and L'Enfant are generally regarded as their two masterpieces.

Quite a number of critics agreed with Wells that The Kid With a Bike is one of the Dardennes' minor works, but Wells is taking a shot at those who thought it was really great (which includes a number of people on this board).

Edited by Rushmore

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roughly on the level of the Dardennes’ The Kid With The Bike.

If it really is on the level of The Kid With A Bike, I'll be quite happy to "cream over it".

For some bizarre reason, I don't think The Kid with a Bike is the Dardenne film most critics cream over.  I've gotten the impression that Le Fils and L'Enfant are generally regarded as their two masterpieces.

Quite a number of critics agreed with Wells that The Kid With a Bike is one of the Dardennes' minor works, but Wells is taking a shot at those who thought it was really great (which includes a number of people on this board).

 

I haven't seen all the Dardennes' films, but of those I have watched The Kid With A Bike is possibly my favourite. Is it possible that some downgrade it simply because the ending is fairly redemptive? (I know how tempting it is to half-consciously downgrade a work with a less tragic denouement as somehow less 'realistic'.) Personally I thought the story cohered better than their Palme D'or winner L'Enfant, which is a brilliantly gripping film based around an act so stupid I thought it unbelievable.

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I haven't seen all the Dardennes' films, but of those I have watched The Kid With A Bike is possibly my favourite. Is it possible that some downgrade it simply because the ending is fairly redemptive? (I know how tempting it is to half-consciously downgrade a work with a less tragic denouement as somehow less 'realistic'.) Personally I thought the story cohered better than their Palme D'or winner L'Enfant, which is a brilliantly gripping film based around an act so stupid I thought it unbelievable.

I probably lack the filmic vocabulary to precisely describe this, but my guess is it has something to do with the tone.  The Kid with a Bike is a much warmer film - the shots, the colours, the characters, etc. - all feel more connected and redemptive than any other Dardenne film.  The Kid with a Bike is also their first film to use any underscoring, which also gives the film a less bleak atmosphere, since the underscoring is warm string chords.  (I haven't seen any of their films before La Promesse, so it's possible some of those early films have underscoring.)

 

However, I believed the central act in L'Enfant.  To be honest, the third act twist with the baseball bat in The Kid with a Bike stuck me as slightly far-fetched, especially based on the way he held it.

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I haven't seen all the Dardennes' films, but of those I have watched The Kid With A Bike is possibly my favourite. Is it possible that some downgrade it simply because the ending is fairly redemptive?

The ending of The Son is "fairly redemptive."

Edited by Overstreet

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I haven't seen all the Dardennes' films, but of those I have watched The Kid With A Bike is possibly my favourite. Is it possible that some downgrade it simply because the ending is fairly redemptive?

The ending of The Son is "fairly redemptive."

 

 

The Child can be interpreted that way, too.

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I haven't seen all the Dardennes' films, but of those I have watched The Kid With A Bike is possibly my favourite. Is it possible that some downgrade it simply because the ending is fairly redemptive?

The ending of The Son is "fairly redemptive."

 

That's the major one I haven't seen. Must rectify.

Do you know why The Kid With A Bike is seen as 'lesser league' Dardennes? (If it is... that's just the impression I got from my overall reading.) I thought it was pretty nigh-on perfect. 

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Anodos wrote:
: I haven't seen all the Dardennes' films, but of those I have watched The Kid With A Bike is possibly my favourite. Is it possible that some downgrade it simply because the ending is fairly redemptive?

 

This is probably addressed in our thread on that film, but I vaguely recall that Mike D'Angelo (I think it was) regarded The Kid with a Bike as a bit of a retreat for the Dardennes, a return to their comfort zone after they had tried to stretch themselves with Lorna's Silence.

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Do you know why The Kid With A Bike is seen as 'lesser league' Dardennes? (If it is... that's just the impression I got from my overall reading.) I thought it was pretty nigh-on perfect. 

 

 

I think pushback is inevitable once any artist(s) reach a certain level of popularity. 

 

Also, it was the first film after Lorna's Silence which was more opaque (imo), so it's possible that the redemptive angle and its accessibility could have been read by some critics as regressive, if one buys into the notion that artists must have a linear arc or development. (Just speculating.)

But I've been avoiding this thread b/c I find I can't avoid spoilers in pre-discussion...just wanted to use this occasion for some (self) promotion on the occasion of the film dropping at Cannes. Doug Cummings's essay on the Dardennes is my favorite in the first two volumes of Faith & Spirituality in Masters of World Cinema. It really is worth a read if you have access to an academic library with a good inter-library loan program. 

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Screen Daily

 

Two Days, One Night, the Palme d’Or nominated drama from Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne starring Marion Cotillard, has won the seventh Sydney Film Prize.

 

The feature beat 11 other contenders due to “its masterfully elegant storytelling, its dedication to a fiercely humanistic, super-realist worldview, its brave, essential commitment to community solidarity, and its celebration of a woman’s power and vitality”.

 

The comments were made by jury president and local filmmaker Rachel Perkins when announcing the award last night (June 15), the final night of the 61st Sydney Film Festival.

Edited by Benchwarmer

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I love how the Dardennes' films resist trailerization. 

Edited by Overstreet

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No-one else seen this yet? It's been out here in the UK a week or two and definitely had more media hype than any of the previous Dardenne films.

The premise and resulting structure are really interesting, if a little close to home, and the first two-thirds are great. But there are a few off notes in the last third. Not really massively off, just a smudge below the high standards we've come to expect from JP&L and a little more of a glance towards Hollywood than we've got used to. It's still a good film, but it's not quite in the same league as Le Fils.

Difficult to talk about the specifics without giving away what is (gradually, as ever) revealed as the film plays out. Courtillard is great as are the many bit parts and the scenarios, camerawork and attention to detail is, as ever, great.

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Even better than I was hoping, and since it was Dardennes I was hoping it would be great. 

 

Review coming.

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