Saturday, May 16, 2015

Deux jours, une nuit,_One_Night

Raising a family in a small town in Belgium, Sandra (Marion Cotillard) and husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) both have to work to make ends meet. She takes a short period of leave due to her depression; an ultimatum welcomes her return to the office. Her absence meant some adjustments in terms of working overtime for her co-workers, making them realize that they could actually do the work without her. The management decides to put the matter to a vote: either they keep Sandra, or they let her go in lieu of 1000 euros each as a bonus for all of them. The odds seem to be overwhelmingly against her, but her husband and friends think that she should not give up. And so she makes it a point to visit each and every one of her co-workers over the weekend so as to persuade them to vote for her so she can keep her job. She faces an uphill climb, though, as giving up 1000 euros is not something everyone has the luxury to do.

You have to give it to Cotillard. She was virtually an unknown in Hollywood before La Môme came out. Audrey Tautou is at least even more recognizable because of The Da Vinci Code. And yet here we have Marion, getting Hollywood projects left and right while maintaining her presence in European cinema. Even her English has improved a lot, and she is one of only a few European actors who managed to stay relevant across the pond after their Oscar wins. This is why when she gets nominated for a second time, you should pay attention. Although one might argue that the nomination is already the win, you could not really ignore the gravitas of her performance in this movie, especially if you compare it to her rendition of Edith Piaf.

Still on Cotillard, she was awesome in La Môme, but you might have to agree when I say that she relied more on theatrics and make-up for that role. It was something that she could not have done alone. It had to be a team effort for her performance to soar to greater heights, which is a requisite for playing such roles. Her turn as a depressed housewife fighting for her labor rights in this film is just far from her turn as Edith Piaf. Here, she has to be subtle to be affective. She has to substitute singing with restrained sobbing. She has to give up the heavy makeup for a more deglamorized look. Perhaps this is why she got a second nod after all, because she has just proven her versatility as an actress.

Cotillard aside, the film captures its audience because of its universal theme. Anyone who has experienced even just a single workday in his life would know the feeling of fighting for a job that you might not even like in the first place. The hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it, and then there are the other everyday routine and complications that you also have to deal with.

But is it not what makes life worth living after all? Besides, what is life without a challenge? In the end, all you could ever do is survive, because that is what living is all about. All these thoughts and emotions linked to it are prevalent in the movie, and they do not just validate what you already know about life, but also reassure you that you do not have the monopoly of shitty experiences on this planet.

The twist at the end is mercilessly executed. There you suddenly have a shift in terms of who holds the power to influence the outcome regarding the film’s primary dilemma, and in doing so they have given the character a chance to define not just her place in the workforce, but also her humanity. It is one of those moments when you realize that the universe has a wicked sense of humor, and you just learn to ride along because you know the joke would not always be on you anyway. In fact, you even emerge from the whole ordeal as a stronger person with a more mature sense of being.

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