Thursday, 28 August 2014


The good artists produce works of beautiful purity and simplicity of vision. The better ones embellish theirs with additional concepts, each as thought-through as the last. The best ones fully incorporate those concepts into their schemes, producing works of beautiful purity and complexity. The Dardenne brothers are not far off that level - Two Days, One Night has all of the components of a classic, and is thus a tremendously rewarding film, but it falls slightly short of said status due to a sensation that certain elements within it exist in mild conflict with one another. These elements are impeccably constructed, though - the film's curious thriller tone is perfectly judged, and its final note of optimism, though this hypothetical summation jars with the otherwise reflective slant of Two Days, makes for a highly satisfactory resolution for Marion Cotillard's character. She has undergone a lifetime of highs and lows over a mere few days, and walks into the future as we walk out of the screen. The Dardennes' camera rests, finally permitting Sandra to be the master of her own environment; in prior shots, it has framed her as a frail, yet resilient, figure set before a world in flux, seemingly powerless against it. These filmmakers' primal practicality pits a subject already ravaged by her circumstances versus the menial facts of life in capitalist society, and their reluctance to judge opens up every one of Sandra's many encounters to endless application within one's own experiences. Their tactic for evoking empathy is plain but effective, and it greatly enhances their film's tension, gradually, imperceptibly building to a terrific peak; much of what the Dardennes achieve in Two Days, One Night occurs not on the screen but in one's mind. Cotillard's superb acting is equally subtle - she appears to actually do so little, but the effect is quite pronounced.