What would you do, if you are offered a bonus of €1,000 – with the consequence that one of your team member is laid off? Just to make things easy for you, the team member is not especially well-liked and that she is prone to depression. Would you vote to get the bonus, or would you decline so that your team member keeps her job?
This is the dilemma presented by Two Days One Night (Deux jours, une nuit) where Sandra (played marvellously by Marion Cotillard) receives a call that she has lost her job – her 16 co-workers vote to get their bonus, instead of declining it so she can stay at the company. The link between Sandra’s dismissal and the bonus is established by the foreman, who think that the whole company can survive by having 16 workers only. Sandra is encouraged by her husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) and co-worker Juliette (Catherine Salée) to push on and contact her 16 teammates so that they will change their mind at the second ballot on Monday. The movie chronicles Sandra’s attempt to contact all 16 teammates with varying degree of success … Understandably, realistic reasons start to surface, like “I’m the sole breadwinner here and I need the extra money”, “We have to pay for the house extension” or the more diplomatic answer of “I didn’t vote against you – I just voted to get the bonus”. In such situation, what would you do, really? If you really need the money – and that the person to retain is arguably the weakest link?
I enjoyed the movie and watched it feeling uncomfortable – I’d like to think that I would do the right thing and refuse the bonus, if I were in that situation. The thing is, you can’t be too sure. It’s a simpler dilemma if the person to retain is really well-liked and well-valued – what if you are foregoing a large amount of money to keep somebody that you don’t really care? The Dardenne brothers (Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne) skillfully wraps this philosophical question into this movie without any attempt to preach or to take the high moral ground. They simply present the issue as it unravels and let the viewers be involved with the issue at hand.
Marion Cotillard is excellent as the fragile Sandra – sometimes you wish you can snap her out of her depression so she can take charge decisively. However, that is the nature of depression, isn’t it? It’s not particularly well-understood and favoured by other people. Fabrizio Rongione is also great as Manu – the ever-encouraging husband who at times feels helpless with his wife’s predicament.
Two Days One Night is recommended if you feel like a philosophical challenge through a well-directed, great quality movie.