Monday, September 07, 2015

"Two Days, One Night"

This straightforward and on the surface simple film packs a slow punch.  Marion Cotillard plays a young mother who returns to her factory job after a leave of absence due to a bout of depression.  She is immediately put into a difficult position by her foreman, who gives the other workers in her department a choice of getting annual bonuses of 1000 euros or keeping her on and losing the bonus.

Her effort is to convince the other workers, a few of whom are solidly behind her, to vote for her to keep her job and thus forego the bonuses.  Her husband and two young children support her, but she is on the edge of a depressed state and using prescribed Xanax to cope.

What is especially interesting is that if there were American films that were this honest about the world we now live in, the theaters would be empty.  What is also interesting is that some facets of the U.S. economy today are so prevalent in a country like France, as this film clearly is depicting some truth about that country.

The factory workers, who make solar panels, are earning lower middle class wages and most are barely getting by paycheck to paycheck,  even in most cases with both husband and wife working. It's easy to think of France as a place, with its considerable economic transfer payments, its tendency for strikes, and its strict government enforced work rules, where a middle class life is almost a birthright with any regular job. With the stagnation in Europe today, that is no longer the case, and just as in the U.S. being employed by no means implies a secure situation.  Some of the shortfalls that exist in the U.S. economy today reflect what is going on in much of the developed world.

This was not a political film, and the comment here should not give that impression.  It is simply a well done depiction of real life.  Cotillard is exceptional in a convincing low key role.


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