COMPETITION – The Dardenne brothers’ view of the economic crisis

The film crew © AFP / LV

Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne form an important duo in world cinema. This is the fifth time that they work with Fabrizio Rongione, who plays one of the leading roles this time, to shoot Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night), a social drama in Competition. The cast of the film produced by the two brothers who have won two Palmes d’or is completed by Marion Cotillard, whom they had their heart set on.

Photo from the film © RR


Sandra stands a chance of losing her job. In order to save her position, she tries to convince her colleagues to give up their bonus, but this financial extra is anything but a luxury for these poor workers. Time is of the essence: she only has a weekend, two days and one night, to do it. Her husband, Manu, is of great help to her in this race.

This drama is a reflection of Rosetta, Palme d’or 1999, or a young woman’s search for a job, interpreted by Émilie Dequenne. Since then, the economic climate has changed; so have the Dardenne brothers’ ambitions. “ In the social and economic crisis in which Europe finds itself today, we were thinking of making a film about a person who is going to be made redundant with the consent of most of her colleagues ”, explains Luc Dardenne.

In Deux jours, une nuit (Two Days, One Night), the pair of film directors stage workers who find themselves in constant competition. All of them are in insecure jobs and Sandra understands that her request is very awkward. She is depressed and resigned, “ a non performer ” as defined by Jean-Pierre Dardenne.
The two brothers naturally opted for Marion Cotillard to fill this role, after bumping into her while she was shooting with Jacques Audiard in Belgium for Rust and Bone (De rouille et d’os). Pendant les heures qui ont suivi leur rencontre, Jean-Pierre et Luc n’ont « cessé de parler d’elle, de son visage, de son regard ». Pour l’actrice, « tourner avec eux revenait à accéder à l’inaccessible ».

Marion Cotillard plays alongside an actor well-known to the Dardenne brothers. Fabrizio Rongione was an obvious choice for “ a more than important ” role. “ Fabrizio managed to give this man the life force, the enthusiasm needed to support Sandra ”, rejoices Luc. Manu, the character played by Fabrizio, who is a little trade-unionist and very much in love, does all he can to encourage his wife. He is the only glimmer of hope in a situation which seems unsurmountable for Sandra.

Tarik Khaldi



Tuesday May 20th / Grand Théâtre Lumière / 8:30am-2pm-7:30pm
Wednesday May 21st / Soixantième Theatre / 12pm

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