The master filmmakers on blending the political and the personal in their new film.
It was a rare privilege and fascinating experience to speak with Belgian filmmaking brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne during the screening of Two Days One Night at the 52nd New York Film Festival. They are auteurs par excellence, keeping tight reins over every aspect of their oeuvre—script, production and mise-en-scene. Their tightly-wound and intensely humanistic films, mostly direct but powerful stories about young people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, have won two Palme d’Or at Cannes for Rosetta (1999)—along with Best Actress for Emilie Dequenne—and The Child (2005). In addition, Olivier Gourmet was named Best Actor for his role in The Son (2002), and the brothers won Best Screenplay for Lorna’s Silence (2008)—a well-deserved track record for low-budget filmmakers.
Typically working with new or non-professional actors, Two Days One Night is their first film to feature a noted international star, Marion Cotillard, as Sandra, a working mother just fired from a solar energy factory. A new management scam has placed the onus of downsizing on workers, who are offered a bonus if they vote to operate with one less employee, resulting in Sandra’s dismissal. While, in a very different way, unemployment was also the focus of Rosetta, the Dardennes break-out film—it reportedly led to the passing of a labor bill, Rosetta’s Law to protect young people—Two Days One Night addresses the issue of worker solidarity in a toxically competitive world.
In the following interview, the Dardennes discuss their documentary background, modus operandi, and the new film’s genesis. Two Days One Night opens theatrically on December 24.[ Read More ]