A working-class story about the trials and tribulations of a woman, who has been sacked from her job and how she deals with the crisis while struggling with bouts of depression, in French language drama "Two Days One Night" ('Deux jours, une nuit'), has hit the right chord with the audience at the ongoing Mumbai Film Festival (MFF).
Screened in the World Cinema section at MFF, the heartfelt and humane story told by Dardenne brothers -- Jean-Pierre and Luc -- has found favour with moviegoers perhaps because the consequences of the 2009 recession, when severe job loss was suffered by thousands, is still afresh in their minds.
"Two Days One Night", which is representing Belgium in the Oscars race in the best foreign language film category, has Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard playing the central character of Sandra, who has to deal with the job loss and depression problem simultaneously.
She can save her job only if she convinces her co-workers to choose her over their bonus and vote for her to stay.
With just one weekend to pull off the most difficult task of her life, she embarks on this emotional journey despite low probability of succeeding in her efforts. And one marvels at Cotillard's performance for effortlessly emoting various conflicting feelings while dealing with rejection, humiliation and depression.
Her endeavour to save her job brings her face to face with the good and the worst side of human nature. In fact, witnessing conflicts and problems of her colleagues worsen her mental status and intensify her psychological turbulence so much so that she gulps down the entire packet of Xanax, a medicine prescribed to treat anxiety and panic.
Dardenne brothers's compelling and intense social-real drama, which was screened at this year's Cannes International Film Festival too and won appreciation, underlines many aspects about the current professional and social scenario like how crucial "a job" is for someone and what lengths one has to go to save it. It resonates well because even today terms like cost cutting and downsizing is threatening many.
It also emphasises the fact that family support can help one sail through tough times. In this film, Fabrizio Rongione as Sandra's husband Manu, who has a never-say-die attitude, epitomises that morale and emotional support system.
Although the film doesn't have a typical happy ending, but post voting, distressed Sandra finds solace in the fact that she put up a good fight to save her job and gives her confidence to start afresh. She moves on with hope and positivity.
Not an easy story to be told on the screen, but Dardenne brothers, an expert at bringing such stories, beautifully portray the repercussions of modern society's management theories on people's lives and get ample support from Cotillard in making it powerful.
(Arpana can be contacted at email@example.com)