A close-up in TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

marion cotillard

One of the most affecting film close-ups I’ve seen is in Two Days, One Night (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne, 2014). Marion Cotillard plays a stressed-out woman trying to reclaim her job after missing work during a bout of depression. She’s in the car with her husband who’s trying to buck her up after a series of extremely awkward conversations with fellow workers, asking them to give up a big bonus in return for voting her back into the company. She’s on a knife’s edge of sanity, taking too many Xanax. Her husband has just turned down the radio, afraid that a particular song would depress her, and with a sudden spark she cranks the radio back up. Her lips and eyes show all at once the intolerable pressure she’s under (including the pressure to “be positive” coming from her husband), her indignation at being patronized, her reclaiming of the simple pleasure of driving with her husband with the radio on, and her knowledge that everything is precarious, everything, even when you’re brave and you’re loved.

You can see this moment at the end of the trailer.

–Steve Smith