There is something to be said about a film that can thrill its audiences without the prevalence of an action-packed narrative. “Argo” is a great example of a mainstream film that had viewers on the edge of their seats despite a gunshot at no point ever even being fired.
“Two Days, One Night” however takes this idea further into that extreme. Nothing about this film is overtly thriller-like. A woman who has recently been laid off needs to convince the majority of her co-workers to vote to keep her on the job in lieu of a staff-wide bonus- and she only has two days and one night to do it.
“Put yourself in my shoes.”
And despite nothing painting this film as thriller-like on the surface, the film is still bound to receive the edge-of-seat reaction that any other action-packed thriller might. Sandra is faced with an incredible challenge in convincing her co-workers that her continuing to have a salary to support her family is anywhere near more important than all of their bills effectively paid for an entire year. It’s a treacherous task with a ticking clock, which fits the bill of a thriller quite nicely.
It is important to note however that the use of the word thriller is only in regards to the edge-of-seat feeling the audience is bound to have with this film. The film moves in a very similar manner to the Dardenne brothers’ previous film “The Kid with a Bike”, albeit significantly more dynamic. This is very fortunate as merging the simplicity of that film with a more dynamic and snappy pacing is quite the winning combination.
One could however almost argue that every winning aspect of this film is put to shame by the moving performance of Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard. The terrific actress is able to play her role in such a manner that the viewer will not just sympathize with her in her worst moments, but will rather feel her pain in an almost surreal way. It could be that the fear of being laid of resonates with the general public, but whatever the reason, Cotillard does a fine job of bringing such a situation to life.
Despite the film moving in some odd directions towards the film’s conclusion, “Two Days, One Night” is quite the thrilling feat. With a variegated cast of co-workers and a great performance by Sandra’s supportive husband, this is a film that gives its all and rarely ever fails.
Runtime: 1 hr 35 min