Due to depression Sandra (Marion Cotillard) has been unable to work for a while but she’s about ready to come back. That’s when she hears that her co-workers had to choose by vote between her returning to work or them getting a substantial bonus each, and they chose the bonus. Her friend Juliette (Catherine Salée) helps her to convince her boss to take the vote again on Monday, giving Sandra two days time to convince enough of her co-workers to vote for her to keep her job and forgo their bonuses.
Deux jours, une nuit has a simple set-up and structure, but one it uses extremely effectively to tackle very complex issues in a thoughtful manner. I loved it.
The film not only tells a story about the situation of the working poor, who are so much at the mercy of their employers because they can’t get by on a single wage that they have to rely on everything and anything they can get extra, effectively killing all solidarity they might show. As Sandra briefly enters life after life of her co-workers, we see domestic violence, we see immigration issues and much more.
But for me the film was mostly a story about what happens after people “recover” from depression. Sandra has managed to go through the worst part. She is ready to get back into life again, but she’s far from stable yet. She doesn’t believe in her own strength and her entire personhood is still very much at the mercy of what happens around her. What we get to see is what a struggle it still is, even after people have recovered, to actually be (close to) healthy. The ironic thing being, of course, that most support systems stop just before that struggle and not after.
Marion Cotillard is wonderful in the role, making every second on Sandra’s emotional rollercoaster feel absolutely real. The film relies completely on her and fortunately it can. I also liked Fabrizio Rongione’s performance. The two of them managed to show the hardships and the love of their characters’ relationship with equal sincerity.
It all culminates in the perfect ending for a wonderful film that is at once uplifting, cathartic and realistic.
Summarizing: Absolutely excellent.