Originally posted on The Student Journals: http://studentjournals.co.uk/2014/08/two-days-one-night-review-lacklustre-product-of-a-riveting-idea/

Two Days, One Night tries to set itself apart as socialist food for thought but it misses all opportunities to seize its audience in an apparently compelling dilemma. The entire Manchester cinema left looking lifeless.

Mother of two Sandra has been forced out of work by colleagues who voted for a €1000 bonus instead of keeping her on the team. She has a weekend to convince them otherwise before Monday’s revote. The plot sounds full of possibility, but the outcome is disappointing.

Before I left, having begrudgingly sat through nearly two hours of empty expectation, I already knew there’d be a pretentious few calling it ‘subtly magnificent.’ But the Dardenne brothers’ latest is flat and never kicks off. And ifTime Out say it’s ‘one of their best,’ then I’d rather not see the rest.

Even Cotillard’s attempted suicide is humdrum as she quickly admits swallowing a Xanax overdose. We don’t even see her vomit. She leaves the hospital a couple of hours later, and continues to visit colleagues as if nothing ever happened.

Her husband seems a bleak attempt to add depth to the vapid, predictable flow. A fight appears to be brewing, as Sandra asks him: “doesn’t it bother you that we haven’t had sex in four months?” But he just lets out a soporifically unflappable “no, because I know we’ll have sex again.” Typical of the film’s tone, it never hits any great highs or lows. Dialogue is dampened further as Sandra repeats herself tediously to over 10 employees. In fact, you won’t even need subtitles because she repeats the same speech over and over and over. (‘Speech’ is a bit too exciting, boring chat is more fitting.)

Cotillard drifts through as the film fails to rise in tension. Although, admittedly, she saved it slightly for me on the (eventually empty) premise of an enthralling moment as we’ve seen her give in La Vie en Rose and Tell No One. The photography is also mildly entertaining – I’d happily watch a Cotillard-Alain Marcoen creation again but, please, a decent scriptwriter.

The Independent said ‘you’ll be punching the air with pride.’ Actually, you’ll be kicking yourself that you paid for a ticket. Neither compassion nor frustration are pushed at the colleagues’ decisions to make the socialist choice or say yes to the bonus. I’d like to pretend that the film’s subtlety is succinct, but it felt monotonous as she went from house to house.

Who was the woman behind Sandra’s revote? Were the children at all aware of their mother’s anxiety or financial situation? Would the family really even struggle without her job?

Don’t even get me started on the ending. “I’ll start looking today” was the dullest line to ever end a movie. There wasn’t even any music. It’s as if the Dardennes are so pretentious they didn’t want it to touch you.

A working-class Belgian film so trite that it failed to engage an audience in the spate of an economic crisis. Wasted, giant-size potential to absorb viewers facing hardships like those of its protagonist, the result is a humdrum, lacklustre product of a riveting idea.

Photo credit: YouTube

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