This week, we teamed up with the Lighthouse Cinema to get your views on Marion Cotillard’s new movie Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit)
Here’s a word cloud of what people thought:
The movie tells the story of a woman returning to work after suffering from depression to find out that her colleagues have chosen to take a bonus at the expense of her job and seemed like a great starting point to discuss Irish attitudes mental health problems, particularly in the workplace context.
James Hagan’s review
“..through Cotillard’s superb acting we see how the stigma her character must deal with impacts upon her mental health and helps to re-enforce negative thoughts of self-worthlessness and hopelessness”
“Two Days, One Night”, directed by the Dardenne brothers, takes as its primary subject mental ill-health and the stigma that unfortunately often accompanies it. It deals with this important issue in a realistic and thought-provoking way, while still offering an enjoyable 95 minutes of cinema. The nuances of mental illness and stigma are explored through the story of Sandra, played by Marion Cotillard, a laboratory worker who we see struggling to retain her job over the course of a weekend. Due to her boss using her illness as an excuse to fire her, and dividing the workforce by threatening her colleagues with financial sanctions if they support her, Sandra must approach each of her co-workers and convince them to vote for her to keep her job.
Obviously, this would be a stressful situation for anyone, and “Two Days, One Night” powerfully illustrates that mental ill-health and its stigma are not separate phenomena; through Cotillard’s superb acting we see how the stigma her character must deal with impacts upon her mental health and helps to re-enforce negative thoughts of self-worthlessness and hopelessness. As well as being a treatment of stigma and how it can prevent healing, this film offers a subtle critique of our economic culture- the way money is distributed in society, the way this influences people’s mental state and how mentally ill people can be ill-treated by others for financial gain. This offers insight into stigma as a potentially financially beneficial phenomenon for those who are able to manipulate it. We see this not only in Sandra’s story, but in the turbulent lives of her colleagues, as her unusual weekend reveals new aspects of their lives to her.
Sinead Keating’s review
“The film highlights powerful and often forgotten truths about mental health such as the power of empathy over pity and the nature of courage in the face of defeat. “
Two Days, One Night is an honest and compassionate story of Sandra, a woman who, whilst living with depression, has to cope with a serious, but common life event. The film doesn’t seek to focus solely on mental ill health. Rather it highlights the subject of mental health with refreshing honesty; mixed up with every other part of Sandra’s life; her impending redundancy, her relationship with her husband and children, the financial stressors her and her family are under, her lack of self worth and her attempt to regain control of her life.
The story follows Sandra (Marion Cotillard), a factory worker who has been off sick because of depression. On feeling almost ready to return to work, she learns that her co-workers were asked to vote on whether to keep her as an employee or to each receive €1000 bonus. In an attempt to keep her job, she spends a weekend going to see her co-workers personally to ask them to change their vote. Marion Cotillard’s performance is outstanding. Her tender performance of a woman trying to rally against despair, fear and loneliness is heartbreaking. She is vulnerable, defeated yet resilient, and utterly convincing.
Trudging from door to door to ask for her co-workers’ support, you can feel Sandra’s intense anxiety and anticipation that she will be rejected because she’s had depression. What follows is a huge variety of reactions from the people she goes to see. Every house and family she visits has their own story and need for their bonus; from broken marriages to new patios to school fees. The lingering shadow of mental health stigma comes in the form of Jean-Luc, another of Sandra’s co-workers who, she eventually finds out, has been ringing around to convince other staff members that Sandra isn’t up to the job after being so unwell. And when she finally confronts Jean-Luc for trying to intimidate people to vote against her he denies it. The situation is startlingly realistic. It appears that her co-workers have been going along with Jean-Luc’s assertions without questioning how Sandra really is until she comes to see them in person. While most of her co-workers are well meaning people who simply want to make ends meet, it becomes clear that the rumours about her health did contribute to the possibility of her losing her job by calling into question her reliability.
The film steers clear of portraying depression as merely sadness. Instead it shows mental illness in all its intimate complexities, sudden changes, challenges and unpleasant outcomes. For viewers with personal experience of mental health problems, some scenes might feel unsettlingly familiar. But it is rare that a film comes along that treats mental health difficulties with such truth and empathy. This is a film without sentimentality; no triumph is glorified and no downfall is dramatised. Instead, each nuance in Sandra’s mental health simply flows onto the next, as it would in real life. The film highlights powerful and often forgotten truths about mental health such as the power of empathy over pity and the nature of courage in the face of defeat. It is a powerful film that shakes off the stereotypes of mental health problems and comes up with a profound and compassionate story of one ordinary woman’s courage.
Robert Wright’s review
“Throughout the film Sandra is encouraged and supported by her husband Manu. This relationship beautifully illustrates what it is like to be there for a loved one with mental health difficulties.”
An unfortunate element of mental illness is that much of it occurs internally, with little or no outward evidence of illness unlike health issues such as some cancers. There is often also a general stigma that follows mental illness and those who suffer from it. This film captures one reality of life in the recession, as many people are under immense strain causing mental health difficulties. While at the same time some employers who are working with less employees and smaller budgets are acting inhumanly, leaving very little time available for sick leave or supports for these workers. This unfortunate modern day occurrence is captured in the coldhearted nature of Sandra’s employer and adds a sinister theme to the film that can be felt throughout the various hostile encounters that Sandra deals with.
The movie follows Sandra a Belgian Mother, who is forced to beg her co-workers to vote for her to return to work following mental health problems. The film shows the reality of depression and anxiety as Sandra battles panic attacks and often has to return to bed, as she needs to hide from what faces her.
As Sandra visits the various characters in the film we are presented with gritty and honest portrayals of the different reactions that people with mental illness often face. Throughout the film Sandra is encouraged and supported by her husband Manu. This relationship beautifully illustrates what it is like to be there for a loved one with mental health difficulties. Their dialogues are often uncomfortable to watch but at the same time heart warming as you cannot look away.
I appreciated the realistic portrayal of life with mental illness in this film. I feel it shows how beneficial love and support can be to those with mental health issues.
Gormla Hughes’ review
“The film brought me back to my own experience with Clinical Depression and re-validated what I now know to be true, when you talk, speak your truth you will always impact another human being in an empowering way, even if you are not there to witness it, when you talk it’s like releasing a valve on a pressure cooker.”
Even, un-dramatic and multi-layered would be the descriptives for this film. A woman named Sandra who is emerging from depression finds herself having to fight to keep her job, and she begins a transformative journey over two days and one night. It began with a goal and ended in a new journey.
The directors bowed to the viewers’ intelligence by not attempting to incite sympathy. When I began having conversation as a See Change Ambassador the one thing that stood out for me was peoples need to find out why, to identify reasons for mental illness. If there are reasons, they are a private matter, sometimes there are no specific reasons, so it was really good to see that these were not in anyway addressed in the film. It was about the journey forward.
The film brought me back to my own experience with Clinical Depression and re-validated what I now know to be true, when you talk, speak your truth you will always impact another human being in an empowering way, even if you are not there to witness it, when you talk it’s like releasing a valve on a pressure cooker.
This is a great film that I want to see again. It has so many starting points for a conversation and has another more subtle layer that I would like to pay more attention to.
Jude Byrne’s review
Ok.Difficult film for me to watch.
Marion Cotillard gives an astounding performance as the central character. The support cast were probably amateur actors, which added a strong sense of realism to her anguish as she tries to persuade them individually to help her.
Her husband appears to love her deeply, but appeared to push her too much ( which confused me )
It’s definitely worthwhile seeing & highlights the pain & suffering of depression very well
Niamh Mongey’s review
“This film helps to break the silence, it shows us that people can and do recover from mental health problems with support and care. “
Overcoming a mental health problem is an uphill battle. The emotional and physical agony that comes with pushing past anguish and pain is overwhelming. It can feel like somebody is pushing you back rather than helping you move forward, preventing you from getting to where you want to be, silencing you.
Imagine being in a position where you are beginning this difficult journey. You are attempting to drive yourself out of the darkness and to put yourself back together again, piece by piece. Now imagine that one of these pieces has been taken from you, because you have been told that one important part of you; your career and your salary is under threat. People are wary of you, they don’t trust you. They see you as weak and incompetent.
In 2012 over half of those surveyed in Ireland said that being open about a mental health problem would have a negative impact on their career prospects. ‘Deux Jours, Une Nuit’ is an example of this fact. The latest production by Belgian directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardanne is about this sad struggle. This is a story about a woman who begins her uphill battle only to be pushed back, because of the cowardice of her employers. After time off work, due to depression, Sandra discovers she will have to start her challenging journey without the support of her work colleagues because she no longer has a job to return to. Her position in the solar panel factory has been sacrificed, her manager has sneakily pitted Sandra against her colleagues by offering them a 1,000 euro bonus and this bonus will replace Sandra’s salary. A vote is cast and the employees, many of whom have financial concerns of their own vote for their bonus.
A good friend and work colleague appeals to the Manager to recast the vote. This gives Sandra the time to visit her colleagues in their homes and to physically beg for them to forgo their bonus, so that she can return to work and begin her recovery.
It is very distressing to witness this shattered woman, faced with the formidable task of fighting for her emotional wellness. Having to humiliate herself and forced to shame her colleagues, all because her managers are too weak and close minded to support her and help her on her journey back to wellness.
To go to a job every day where we are fulfilled and supported, is vital. The workplace is an important aspect of our lives, it can bring an immense sense of accomplishment. To work in a place where one is placed under strain, due to the aggression and cowardice of those we work with is not acceptable. This film shines a light on the terrible show of support that this woman experienced. I hope it will push us to be mindful of the ordeal that some must undergo when dealing with a mental health problem while making the transition into the workplace again.
Despite her hopelessness at times, Marion Cotillard portrays a woman with incredible integrity and determination. We see her gaining strength through her fight. Her motivation grows as she wins the support of some of her fellow employees. This film helps to break the silence, it shows us that people can and do recover from mental health problems with support and care. It makes us determined and more open so that first step uphill becomes more bearable.