Cannes

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Re: Cannes

Postby Greg » Sat May 24, 2014 1:46 pm

Sonic Youth wrote:This time, I just felt like not playing it safe. With Cannes - unlike with the Oscars - you can do that.


Well, Cannes does not have precursors.
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Re: Cannes

Postby Sonic Youth » Sat May 24, 2014 1:10 pm

Both my regular predictions and my "cold feet" predictions blew.


COMPETITION PRIZES

Palme d’Or: “Winter Sleep” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey-Germany-France)

Grand Prix: “The Wonders” (Alice Rohrwacher)

Director: Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”

Actor: Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner”

Actress: Julianne Moore, “Maps to the Stars”

Jury Prize: “Mommy” (Xavier Dolan) and “Goodbye to Language” (Jean-Luc Godard)

Screenplay: Andrey Zvyagintsev and Oleg Negin, “Leviathan”
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Re: Cannes

Postby Sonic Youth » Sat May 24, 2014 12:56 pm

Thank you. I did like my picks until I saw a clip of the standing ovation Xavier Dolan received at his screening. I think I may have made a few big mistakes.....
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Re: Cannes

Postby FilmFan720 » Sat May 24, 2014 10:56 am

Sonic, I like your picks. I have a nagging feeling that Winter Sleep may be our front-runner for the Palme d'Or. I also wouldn't be surprised for Timbuktu to sneak in for the top prize.
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Re: Cannes

Postby Sonic Youth » Sat May 24, 2014 7:17 am

[quote="Mister Tee"]Sonic gets up alot earlier in the day than I do.[/quote}

As Jeremy Irons once said, you have no idea. :)
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Re: Cannes

Postby Sonic Youth » Sat May 24, 2014 7:05 am

Predictions, no-guts-no-glory edition:

Palme d'Or: Leviathan

Grand Prix: Timbuktu

Prix du Jury: Wild Tales

Best Director: Naomi Kawase

Best Actor: Haluk Bilginer

Best Actress: Anne Dorval

Best Screenplay: Clouds of Sils Maria

------------------------

I'm not expecting to get many of these right. But since Cannes can be so random with their choices, I went with picks that would be considered unexpected. Timbuktu is the sort of film - you know, from Africa - that wins the Jury Prize, but it was so well-received it may break that glass ceiling. Kawase's film was not well-received, but there's often one prize guaranteed to bring out booing. Yes, it's more likely that someone like Xavier Dolan would win the prize. My more rational self also tells me it's more likely Timothy Spall will win best actor, etc. This time, I just felt like not playing it safe. With Cannes - unlike with the Oscars - you can do that.

As for Cotillard for Best Actress, Italiano may be, and probably will be, right. It would be the most logical, satisfying narrative behind the prize. However, this year's slate was really strong with acclaimed female roles and performances and Dorval seems nearly as likely. So I took a risk with this category too, although I think it's a smaller risk than the others.

_________________________

ETA: Okay.... if I WERE to get cold feet.... :P

.....I'd say Mommy for Grand Prix, Timbuktu for Jury Prize, Ceylan for director, and Spall & Cotillard for acting.
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Re: Cannes

Postby Mister Tee » Thu May 22, 2014 12:16 am

Variety is pretty enthusiastic.

A funny, heartbreaking and, above all, original work from Canadian enfant terrible Xavier Dolan.
Chief International Film Critic
Peter Debruge
Chief International Film Critic @AskDebruge

If Canadian director Xavier Dolan’s debut, “I Killed My Mother,” served as the petulant revenge of a misunderstood son upon the single mom who raised him, then his unexpectedly self-effacing fifth feature, “Mommy,” acknowledges that perhaps the lack of understanding went both ways. This time, the offscreen director puts himself in his mom’s shoes, casting Anne Dorval once again as a strong, independent woman overwhelmed with the task of caring for a teenage tyrant. It’s uncanny how much Dolan’s style and overall solipsism have evolved in five years’ time, resulting in a funny, heartbreaking and, above all, original work — right down to its unusual 1:1 aspect ratio — that feels derivative of no one, not even himself.

Though scarcely known in the States, where his sophomore feature “Heartbeats” earned just shy of $600,000, and “I Killed My Mother” and the gender-resistant romance “Laurence Anyways” received only minor arthouse releases, Dolan exploded on the international festival scene in 2009 with a textbook case of “therapy through filmmaking.” One can almost imagine Dolan, now 25, wincing as he revisits his bratty, Camera d’Or-winning debut — the way any artist does when confronted with work that seems to have sprung from a different person than he is today.

There’s no question that “Mommy” is informed by the same autobiographical elements that inspired “I Killed My Mother”: the shouty antagonism, the manic codependence and his mom’s still-unforgiven decision to send Dolan to boarding school when his antics became too much to bear. Here, the writer-director whips up a social-sci-fi scenario to explain an equivalent form of involuntary institutionalization, where a new Quebec law allows parents to skip the courts and commit problem children directly into state care.

Surely the dilemma facing recent widow Diana “Die” Despres (Dorval) would be just as easy to follow — not to mention a smidge less pretentious — without the clunky pre-film chyron explaining the made-up S-14 law. Actually, this intro proves a bit misleading, since the fact that this near-future Quebec society has made the process easy confuses just how difficult it eventually will be for Die to surrender her 15-year-old son Simon (Antoine Olivier Pilon), to whom she has dedicated everything.

With his blond hair and blue eyes, Simon can look beatific one moment and positively devilish the next, like a freak-forward glimpse of a decade-older Dennis the Menace, stirring up a more provocative, sexually aggressive brand of trouble in his mid-teens. One look at Die and it’s clear where much of his nonconformist spirit comes from: For a woman in her 50s, she’s an unpredictable force of nature, too, striding through the suburbs in pole-dancing pumps and painted-on jeans — a look that might be tacky if not played with such conviction by Dorval. Put these two under the same roof, and it’s a wonder the place doesn’t spontaneously burst into flames.

As if Die doesn’t already have enough on her plate, Delon puts her through a car crash on her way to collect Simon from the special care facility where he set fire to the cafeteria. Within her first few scenes, it’s clear this woman has thick skin and an even thicker accent (so much so that the Cannes screening projected the French-language pic with both French and English subtitles), but isn’t quite tough enough to home-school her son as she intends. Lucky for them, their crazy energy attracts the attention of a mousy high-school teacher (“Laurence Anyways” co-star Suzanne Clement) living across the street.

Only an actress as compelling as Clement could keep the introverted, stuttering Kyla from disappearing in the other Despres duo’s shadow. Though Kyla has zoned out with her own family, she’s drawn to her new neighbors’ supernova dynamic and agrees to help, with disruptive effects on both sides. Like all Dolan’s self-edited films, “Mommy” is easily 50% longer than it needs to be, and yet, between Simon’s constant Tourette’s-like outbursts and his over-the-top professions of love for both women, there’s never a dull moment.

In a typically impulsive gesture, Dolan decided to shoot his freewheeling meller in a square frame (though the version screened at Cannes actually looked taller than it was wide), pillarboxing the 1:1 image with black bars on either side. However unnatural the viewing experience, those dimensions force us directly into the center of this already over-intimate menage, but come at the expense of some of d.p. Andre Turpin’s most invigorating images — like the revolving shot of Simon spinning a grocery cart in a strip-mall parking lot to the Counting Crows’ “Colorblind.”

Dolan has played with aspect ratios before, tightening the framing during the suspense sequences of “Tom at the Farm,” for example. Twice the borders expand to fill the entire screen here, supplying a bittersweet glimpse into Simon’s future as only his optimistic mother could imagine it — a hopeful sequence that replays in our minds (but not onscreen) during her most demanding scene at the end of the picture.

Life with Steve is no picnic, swinging from violent outbursts to semi-Oedipal kiss-and-make-up sessions, the potentially inappropriate nature of which is canceled out by ample evidence that this momma’s boy blew the hinges off his closet door long ago. However dangerous their psychologically tangled situation can get, Dolan plays the relationship in bright, high-energy terms, underscoring at least half the film’s 139-minute running time in mix-CD pop tunes — the only downer being a humiliating karaoke rendition of Andrea Bocelli’s “Vivo per lei.”

So, whereas Dolan’s debut was fueled by pent-up resentment the director obviously needed to get out of his system, “Mommy” demonstrates a newfound appreciation for just how much his mother put up with. Chances are, most of “Mommy’s” eventual audience won’t have seen that earlier film, which borrowed a bit too heavily from other arthouse helmers whose work Dolan may or may not have seen, but whose style had some how trickled down into his technique all the same (perhaps via musicvideos, that great synthesizer of art-film innovation).

Composed of one unpredictable scene after another without the meandering self-indulgence of previous films, “Mommy” feels as if Dolan has deliberately unlearned everything he’s seen onscreen before and embraced a fresh naivete that allows him to seek the most direct, honest and emotional way of communicating any given feeling. At times, the film ignores narrative altogether, fetishizing one of Die’s mismatched outfits or delving into a vivid anecdote, a la hilarious box-wine scene. The result is as personal as ever, an ecstatic celebration not only of mothers, but of the two incredible actresses Dolan has adopted as muses along the way.


Hollywood Reporter, as well.

by Peter Dalton

Competing for the Palme d'Or in Cannes, this explosively emotional portrait of a troubled mother-son relationship is 25-year-old director Xavier Dolan's most substantial work to date.

CANNES – The flamboyantly coiffed Quebecois writer-director who put the auteur into hauteur, Xavier Dolan has enjoyed a sensational career rise over the last five years, going from teenage actor to Cannes Competition contender at the ridiculously young age of 25. Dolan's fondness for operatic, style-saturated histrionics onscreen and tetchy narcissism in person tends to divide critics and juries.

But Dolan's fifth feature feels like a strong step forward, striking his most considered balance yet between style and substance, drama-queen posturing and real heartfelt depth. A lusty character study of a working-class Montreal single mother and her emotionally damaged teenage son, Mommy should have plenty of potential commercial appeal beyond Dolan's hard-core art house fan base. This could be his Blue Is The Warmest Color moment. The Ego has landed.

Mommy is Dolan's fourth Cannes entry. He last came to the festival just two years ago with the visually ravishing polymorphous love story Laurence Anyways, which won the LGBT-themed Queer Palm award. Reportedly miffed at being denied an official Competition slot for that film, he chose Venice for his next -- last year's arty psycho-thriller Tom at the Farm.

But even if the gossip is true, his hissy fit is clearly now over as he is back in Cannes with his first official Competition entry. If Mommy defies the current bookie's odds and takes the Palme d'Or, Dolan will be the youngest ever winner --a year younger than Steven Soderbergh was when in 1989, at age 26, he took the big prize with Sex, Lies and Videotape.

The omens are good, since Mommy is a kind of thematic sequel to Dolan's first feature, I Killed My Mother, which won top honors in the Directors' Fortnight in Cannes five years ago. The same leading lady, Anne Dorval, plays the matriarchal pillar of both films. But this time, sympathy has very much shifted toward the long-suffering mother figure. Even though the dramatic material here is much less autobiographical, this more emotionally generous story could almost be read as an apology for Dolan's sulky, spiky, self-absorbed debut.

Mommy takes place in a lightly fictional near-future Canada following the adoption of new laws that dictate parents must either take responsibility for their emotionally disturbed children or send them to detention centers. While this may sound like the opening to one of David Cronenberg's dystopian sci-fi thrillers, it is actually just Dolan's slightly clumsy setup for the family psychodrama ahead. Everything that follows is a broadly naturalistic contemporary three-hander set in the suburbs of Montreal.

Dorval gives a force-of-nature performance as Diane “Die” Despres, a glamorously trashy middle-aged widow whose teenage son Steve (Antoine-Olivier Pilon) suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, bouncing off the walls as he struggles to contain his explosively violent temper. Pilon is great casting for Steve, charismatic and manipulative, volatile but vulnerable. Imagine a demonically cherubic Macaulay Culkin with the sexually charged swagger of a young Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Diane and Steve are both flawed characters, neither victims nor villains. Their conversations are combative and prickly, full of salty slang and occasional physical contact, with teasing hints of incestuous intimacy that the script never fully explores. Unlike Dolan's typical protagonists, these are not bourgeois bohemian hipsters but damaged blue-collar outsiders, struggling yet ever hopeful, bursting with a vitality and vulgarity that give the film its raw humor.

There are more four-letter words in Mommy than all of Dolan's previous features put together. But thankfully, he avoids kitsch caricature or patronizing sentiment in depicting these impoverished, marginalized characters. "I don't see the point in making films about losers," the director explains in his Cannes press notes.

Mommy becomes a kind of bizarre love triangle when shy, stammering neighbor Kyla (Laurence Anyways alumni Suzanne Clement) takes a shine to Diane and Steve. The trio form their own dysfunctional family unit, which liberates all three from stifling personal limitations, at least temporarily. Kyla has a mysterious past and a controlling husband at home, neither of which Dolan explains fully. A missed opportunity, but not a serious omission.

At over two hours, Mommy could benefit from a shorter cut, like all of Dolan's self-edited films. Even so, he keeps this story engrossing, surprising and emotionally pungent for most of its long running time. In another sign of growing maturity, he also resists the lure of tragic melodrama right until the final few scenes, when a heartbreaking daydream sequence showing the successful alternative life that Steve will never lead (Dolan cleverly switches Pilon with another actor here) is followed by a bitter collapse into bleak reality. This downbeat ending does not sit smoothly with the rest of the film, nor does it devalue the good work that has gone before.

One of Dolan's key selling points has always been his strong visual eye, and he does not disappoint here with balletic slow motion, gorgeous clothes and beautifully lit interiors bathed in lush reds and warm golds. But in a bold departure from his past work, Dolan and cinematographer Andre Turpin chose to shoot Mommy in the square 1:1 aspect ratio. This gimmick initially feels needlessly restrictive but soon creates its own appealing visual grammar of tightly framed close-ups and geometric patterns. Without giving away spoilers, the frame widens during two brief scenes of hope and optimism, an elegant metaphor for the characters literally expanding their narrow horizons. This flashy flourish earned a rare round of mid-movie applause in Cannes.

Another of Dolan's signature touches is his collage soundtracks of vintage pop and classical tracks. Mommy maintains this tradition, using the conceit that the songs all derive from a mixtape CD compiled by Steve's late father. Lana Del Rey, Dido and Beck all feature, but only Celine Dion is honored with her own stand-alone dance routine. "She's our national heroine!" Diane cries.

Dolan may well have read the Canadian music critic Carl Wilson's extraordinary book defending Dion against highbrow snobbery, Let's Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste. If not, he should. Because Mommy feels like a similarly joyous celebration of the raw emotionalism and cultural richness of Quebec's Francophone working class. In any case, it is Dolan's warmest, most humane and least narcissistic film to date.

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Re: Cannes

Postby Sabin » Wed May 21, 2014 5:15 pm

Didn't know it screened. Here's Mike D'Angelo:

Mommy (Dolan): 54. I'd watch Anne Dorval and Suzanne Clément in anything, but this just seems like a whole lot of random thrashing.

On the flip-side, IndieWire just gave it an "A", and here's from Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian...

Cannes 2014 review: Mommy - dearest work yet from Xavier Dolan
The latest from the Canadian 25-year-old is a splashy, transgressive treat, from trailer-trash chat to unexpected sex and surprising emotional depth

Peter Bradshaw
****/*****

The 25-year-old film-maker Xavier Dolan brings white trash and black comedy to the Cannes competition – with a grey area of tragedy and heartbreak in between. The theme of mothers and sons returns this director to the motif of his first film J'Ai Tué Ma Mère (2009). But now it's the mother who feels like doing the killing.

It's an uproariously emotional movie, to all appearances painfully personal and featuring performances which are almost operatic in scale. These are real heart-on-sleeve performances; even heart-on-straightjacket performances. The film has its flaws, relating to an indulgent length and a reliance on an imagined near-future in which there is a specific new Canadian law which makes the plot work. But Dolan's energy and attack is thrilling; his movie is often brilliant and very funny in ways which smash through the barriers marked Incorrect and Inappropriate.

From the first, an oddity strikes you – the screen's aspect ratio is reduced to the "portrait" shape of a selfie taken on an upright mobile phone. Later Dolan will show, poignantly, that this screen-shape relates to the characters' restricted horizons.

Anne Dorval plays Diane, a widow making ends meet with cleaning jobs: she is feisty, lippy, sexy and dresses like a teenager. The cross she has to bear is her teenage son Steve, who has ADHD and is aggressively unstable with boundary issues, and an inability to stop swearing, fighting and touching women. Yet when calm, he is intelligent and sweet-natured.

Steve has just been discharged from a care facility and now Diane must care for him at home – and this is a chaotic and horribly hilarious nightmare. Antoine Olivier Pilon's performance as Steve is tremendous: he is entirely, hilariously out of control.

But then a miracle happens for both mother and son. They befriend a lonely woman next door called Kyla (Suzanne Clément), a shy schoolteacher recovering from a breakdown which left her with a stammer. Yet she has an instant rapport with Steve, and helps him with his schoolwork – and their friendship even seems to calm her speech problems.

The trailer-trash humour is superbly transgressive, but then evolves into something else: an involving, heartfelt story. You might expect the narrative to develop in sexual ways, and so it does, but not in a predictable style. All three actors give it everything they've got, which is a great deal. These performances are arguably too broad occasionally with a touch of daytime soap. But it is a pleasure to see acting – and directing – which is blasting away on all the emotional cylinders. Full strength, but under control. It is another notable triumph for Dolan. Prodigies don't get much more prodigious than this.
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Re: Cannes

Postby danfrank » Wed May 21, 2014 4:56 pm

I don't have time to post reviews, but check out the buzz for Xavier Dolan's "Mommy," which is now the film I'm most looking forward to seeing this year. Looks like the wunderkind has officially joined the adults' table, and may take over the conversation.

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Re: Cannes

Postby Precious Doll » Wed May 21, 2014 7:58 am

ITALIANO wrote:Cotillard is French, is a big international star, and keeps going to Cannes with strong roles and no prize. She's also a very good actress (I know that some here don't agree with me), and she's supposed to be at her best - very intense and very believable - in this movie whose directors are beloved at this festival. And the subject is, of course, a tough and contemporary one. I'd say that this time it will go to her.


I'll be see this in a couple of weeks time and despite the acclaim and my general appreciation of the Dardennes brothers work, Cotillard is a big turn off for me watching this. I never liked her before she hit and big time with La Vie en Rose. I didn't care too much for her in La Vie en Rose. And with the exception of her performance in of all things Nine, I remain underwhelmed to downright hostile about her work.

Maybe she'll strike gold with my this year like my pet hate Cate Blachett did last year.
"I think he sexually assaulted a child and I don't think that's right…It's gotten very quiet in here, but that's true." Susan Sarandon on Woody Allen, Cannes Film Festival 2016

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Re: Cannes

Postby ITALIANO » Wed May 21, 2014 5:03 am

Cotillard is French, is a big international star, and keeps going to Cannes with strong roles and no prize. She's also a very good actress (I know that some here don't agree with me), and she's supposed to be at her best - very intense and very believable - in this movie whose directors are beloved at this festival. And the subject is, of course, a tough and contemporary one. I'd say that this time it will go to her.

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Re: Cannes

Postby Sabin » Tue May 20, 2014 5:08 pm

The big question is what film appeals the most to Jane Campion. I'm looking at the movies that seem to be the most beloved (Mr. Turner, Winter Sleep, and Two Days One Night), and I'm looking at the question marks coming up (Godard's Goodbye to Language 3D, Hazanavicius' The Search, Loach's Jimmy's Hall, Zvyagintsev's Leviathan, & Xavier Dolan's Mommy) and I keep eyeing the heretofore unseen (and who knows? maybe bad) Xavier Dolan's Mommy as a late in the game success that gets people excited up like Blue is the Warmest Color on Day Eight, The White Ribbon on Day Eight, and Uncle Boonmee on Day Nine from 2013, 2009, and 2010 respectively.

On the other hand, 2012 and 2011 saw Amour premiere on Day Five and The Tree of Life on Day Six, so there's clearly fair representation of films premiering in the first half (although how much Lars von Trier's insane press conference influenced 2011's Jury led by Robert De Niro is debatable). The favorites seem to be Mr. Turner, Winter Sleep, and Two Days, One Night. While it'd be unfair to say that Juries do not base their decision on whether or not the artist is due, nobody leading up to the ceremony thought L'Enfant would get the Palme and one of the main talking points in 2012 was whether Michael Haeneke had won too recently to win again. The Dardenne Brothers have won something for every single film after they won the Palme for Rosetta. They won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury & Best Actor for Le Fils, another Palme for L'Enfant, Best Screenplay for Lorna's Silence, the Grand Prix for Kid on a Bike…they haven't won Best Director yet? There's always that. Nuri Bilge Ceylon has not won the Palme, but he has won the Grand Prix for Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and Distant, Best Director for Three Monkeys, and the FIPRESCI Prize for Climates. If one can be in line to win the Palme, he clearly is. And Mike Leigh has done very well himself. He won Best Screenplay for Naked, for which David Thewis won Best Actor. He won the Palme d'Or for Secrets & Lies. He took home the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury for Another Year. His only film in competition to get nothing was the ironically titled All or Nothing. Mike Leigh could win Best Director. He hasn't won that award yet, and by all accounts Mr. Turner is a stunning-looking film.


…I didn't really have a point.
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Re: Cannes

Postby Mister Tee » Tue May 20, 2014 2:56 pm

Sabin wrote:It seems as though Marion Cotillard will be winning Best Actress.

Unless the Dardennes win a third Palme -- the rules still preclude a second award to the Palme winner.

Apropos of which the Dardennes reviews:

Variety
Chief Film Critic
Scott Foundas
Chief Film Critic @foundasonfilm

As much as she stood out from the crowd in her Oscar-winning turn as Edith Piaf, that’s how much Marion Cotillard blends into the unfettered working-class environs of “Two Days, One Night,” a typically superb social drama from directors Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne. Rich in the Dardennes’ favored themes of work, family and the value of money, and infused with the suspense of a ticking-clock thriller, “Two Days” may be dismissed by some as more of the same from the Belgian siblings who rarely stray far from the industrial port town of Seraing. Yet within their circumscribed world, the Dardennes once again find a richness of human experience that dwarfs most movies made on an epic canvas. Cotillard’s presence will assure the widest exposure to date of any Dardenne effort, particularly in the U.S., where IFC will distribute later this year.

Always masters of narrative economy, the Dardennes kick off “Two Days” with a ringing phone that brings Cotillard’s Sandra the news that her job at a local solar-panel factory is due to be eliminated as part of a downsizing initiative. The decision was made by a vote of Sandra’s 16 co-workers, who were forced to choose between saving her job or their own €1,000 annual bonuses. Only two voted in Sandra’s favor. Now her only recourse is to organize a second vote by secret ballot and hope for a different outcome. It is already Friday afternoon, and Sandra has until Monday morning to rally the seven additional votes she needs.

The Sandra we meet in these early scenes is a woman visibly on the edge. She, her kitchen-worker husband Manu (Fabrizio Rongione) and their two children have only recently climbed their way out of public housing and off welfare, and the loss of Sandra’s job will surely set them back. What’s more, Sandra is at the end of her recovery from a bout of depression that has kept her away from work for an unspecified period of time — a fact used as ammunition by the factory foreman, Jean-Marc, who looms for most of “Two Days” as Sandra’s unseen antagonist.

Norma Rae she isn’t, just as the film is anything but a heavy-handed “issue” movie, right up to a deftly orchestrated conclusion that manages to affirm the Dardennes’ fundamental belief in the goodness of people while suggesting that the struggle of the working class is never over. Indeed, Sandra doesn’t want to start a workers’ revolt but rather to maintain the status quo, and as she journeys door-to-door to seek her colleagues’ help, her argument is simple: “Don’t pity me. Just put yourself in my shoes.”

The responses run the gamut from the cruel to the compassionate, from those who won’t even give Sandra the time of day to those who beg her forgiveness and cry on her shoulder. At every step, the Dardennes, who patently refuse to pass moral judgments on their characters, evoke Jean Renoir’s famous maxim that “Everyone has his reasons.” One says he needs the bonus in order to pay for his daughter’s tuition; another that she’d love to help but has recently left her husband and so money is tight; still another that she’s building a new patio out back. And some say yes, of course, we’ll vote for you.

Although Sandra isn’t slowly being poisoned to death like the doomed protagonist of the noir classic “D.O.A.” or facing a looming gunfight in the center of town like the beleaguered sheriff of “High Noon,” the Dardennes couch her struggle in the same desperate, high-stakes terms, and the closer Monday morning comes, the thicker the movie’s air grows with a queasy anxiety. As it was in the similarly nail-biting “The Son” and “L’Enfant,” that mood is inexorably enhanced by the Dardennes’ favored shooting style of long handheld tracking shots in which the camera hovers relentlessly around the main character as though attached by a tether.

In most Dardenne films, those roles have been played by Bressonian nonprofessionals or local character actors (like the excellent Rongione, who made his debut in “Rosetta” and has since made four additional films for the brothers) whose unfamiliarity to the audience made them that much more credible as ordinary working stiffs. But Cotillard, who is only the second established star the Dardennes have cast (after Cecile De France in their previous “The Kid with a Bike”), disappears so fully into Sandra that she becomes inseparable from the rest of the company.

Outfitted in jeans and a series of brightly colored tank tops, her matted hair pulled back with a scrunchie, the actress is onscreen in every scene of “Two Days,” and yet the role never feels remotely like a star turn as she hustles to and fro, pleading her case, her wide, expressive eyes registering every quicksilver flash of doubt, fear and self-loathing. Cotillard plays Sandra as a woman who has always struggled to feel that her life has value, and little by little over the course of the “Two Days, One Night,” in the most remarkably subtle of ways, she shows her coming into a new sense of self.

Pic benefits greatly from the expert lensing of regular Dardenne d.p. Alain Marcoen, the crisp editing of Marie-Helene Dozo, and the lived-in production designs of Igor Gabriel. After experimenting with brief snatches of classical music as underscore in both “Lorna’s Silence” and “The Kid with a Bike,” the brothers return to a music-free milieu here, save for Petula Clark’s 1970 hit “La nuit n’en finit plus” emanating from a radio and, in one joyous scene, Van Morrison’s “Gloria.”


Hollywood Reporter
by David Rooney

The Bottom Line

Specialists in unvarnished intimacy, the Dardenne brothers add another clear-eyed contemplation of stark social reality to their impressive output.

CANNES – The injustices of the workplace and the basic but tenuous dignity of being able to earn a living have been frequent themes in the films of Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, going back to their early breakthroughs with The Promise and Rosetta. Their latest affecting drama, Two Days, One Night, chronicles the weekend-long crusade of a working-class woman, played with piercing emotional transparency by Marion Cotillard, to reverse a decision regarding the termination of her employment. Once again, it's enriched by signature qualities – the humanistic, nonjudgmental gaze, the absence of sentimentality, the ultra-naturalistic style – that have always distinguished the Belgian brothers' fine body of work.

Even before the global economic meltdown of the past several years, and the ubiquitous rise of such corporate practices as self- and co-worker evaluations, staggered layoffs and contract buyouts, French-language cinema has long focused on the cancerous impact of that business culture on individuals and families. Laurent Cantet's ironically titled 1999 debut, Human Resources, is an obvious example.

Sandra (Cotillard) has been pushed out of her job working for a small solar panel company following a vote in which fellow employees were given a choice between her redundancy or their 1,000 euro bonuses. Recently recovered from a bout of depression that kept her off work, Sandra's impulse is to crawl back into bed with a Xanax. But her loving husband Manu (Dardennes regular Fabrizio Rongione) urges her to fight to keep her job.

Initially, Sandra is too defeated to speak up for herself, but her colleague and friend Juliette (Catherine Salee) catches the firm's manager (Baptiste Sornin) on Friday afternoon, persuading him to revisit the issue in a silent ballot on Monday morning. With 14 out of her 16 co-workers having voted against her, that leaves Sandra two days to track down their addresses, visit them at their homes and persuade at least seven more to forego their bonuses and vote in her favor, securing the majority she needs in order to remain employed.

Less out of pride than her own battered self-belief, Sandra refuses to plead or seek pity. She says little of the difficulty of raising her two kids (Pili Groyne, Simon Caudry) on her husband's wage as a cook, or of the likelihood of having to move the family back into welfare housing. Instead she simply presents her case, appealing to her colleagues' sense of decency and pointing out the unfairness of the firm's foreman (Olivier Gourmet, another Dardennes favorite) making their decision into an either/or proposal.

Editor Marie-Helen Dozo uses the repetitive aspect of these visits to instill a gentle but urgent rhythm in the superbly modulated story.

While the setup might seem the basis for a look at people's venal natures, and their inability to think beyond personal gain, the Dardennes are unfailingly compassionate filmmakers. In casual observations full of small but telling details, we see one person after another engaged in his or her own struggle, many of them in immigrant families, working two jobs or with spouses on unemployment. The ones who either refuse to hear Sandra out or react with hostility are the minority, outweighed by those to whom 1,000 euros makes a difference too great to ignore. It's a quiet but wrenching portrayal of no-frills lives.

However, like shafts of sunlight on a gray day, each small triumph illuminates the film with hope. In the most beautiful scene, Sandra approaches a young father (Timur Magomedgadzhiev) while he's coaching a junior soccer team. Having been helped by her when he was new to the job, his shame after voting against her is devastating. Another lovely exchange occurs in a laundromat with a short-term contract worker (Serge Koto).

There are also deeply moving moments involving Anne (Christelle Cornil), who is sympathetic but under the thumb of her husband. An interlude in which Anne, Manu and Sandra – all rock fans – sing along to "Gloria" by Van Morrison's band Them on the car radio provides a liberating reprieve from worry, and from the inexorable approach of Monday morning.

While some may take issue with Sandra's drastic action at a certain point when the odds against her appear impossible, the scene and her behavior throughout are validated by absolute psychological and emotional integrity. And the way in which the Dardennes, as well as Manu, simply put the incident behind them and move on, feels entirely true to the characters.

Likewise, some might quibble that Manu is an idealization of the supportive spouse, tirelessly and selflessly bolstering Sandra's fragile resolve. But on the contrary, his behavior – and Rongione's emotional honesty as an actor – makes this a tender yet matter-of-fact depiction of the dynamic in relationships where managing clinical depression requires constant vigilance.


Screen Daily
By Lee Marshall

Dirs/scr: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Belgium-France-Italy. 2014. 94mins

The impossible choices forced on workers by downsizing, flexible contracts and the declining power of the unions are thrown into stark relief in the Dardennes brothers’ latest film. While it may lack the breathless dramatic energy of earlier works like La Promesse or L’Enfant, this is still a powerful, finely scripted issue movie, made all the more incisive by Marion Cotillard’s raw performance as a woman fighting to save her job while suffering from depression.

The story of a woman forced to canvas her fellow workers to persuade them to give up a bonus payment in order for her to keep her job is one that you can imagine Ken Loach taking on, but the undogmatic, compassionate focus on the lives of Marion and those she meets builds a nuanced portrait of a struggling community that is classic Dardennes. Cotillard, the recessionary topicality of the theme and the dramatic efficiency of a film that takes its time to bite, but never lets go when it does, will send Two Days off on a multi-date world tour, perhaps stirring even more interest than the brothers’ last outing, The Kid On The Bike.

The first shot of Cotillard’s character Sandra speaks volumes about who she is and how she is. She’s wearing a cheap, bright, department-store singlet, hair scrunched up in a sporty ponytail, but her face tells a different story. She’s suffering from depression, and through the course of the film will pop far more Xanax than is good for her.

As if her illness wasn’t enough, Sandra has just been laid off by a small solar energy firm, following a ballot of colleagues who were told that if they voted for her to stay in her job, it would mean forfeiting their thousand-euro bonuses. However, late on Friday, the boss tells her he has no objections to a second, secret ballot being held on Monday morning before work. If Sandra can talk her workmates into voting to lose their bonuses, he’ll keep her on.

It’s like Twelve Angry Men in the workplace – except there are sixteen of them, with only two voting in her favour in the first ballot. So with the help of her supportive husband Manu (Rongione), who fights throughout to keep her from sinking into self-loathing and giving it all up as pointless, Sandra sets out to visit her colleagues one by one in the lower-middle class suburbs of some unnamed Belgian town over the course of a sunny weekend.

The script takes its time to raise the dramatic temperature, adding brushstrokes to the portrait of a woman whose fight with the black dog of depression turns every difficult house call into a mountain peak. She’s alternately buoyed by fragile hope and slapped down by despair as colleagues are either won round or refuse to back her – some for financial reasons, others because they see this colleague who has only just returned to work after time off for illness as a weak link who can easily be sacrificed.

Shot mostly by day, in stark and sometimes mocking summer sunlight, Two Days, One Night refuses to divide the ayes and nays into goodies and baddies. The simple choice between ‘Sandra’ and ‘bonus’ – as written on the final ballot paper – may be an unlikely scenario, but the Dardennes suggest that it’s one that many workers are forced to make in a less direct way. But this layered film is more than one long ethical debate. Sandra’s door-to-door mission also enables the directors to touch on issues of immigration, integration and a cash-strapped blue-collar existence that pans out between low-cost diners (like the one where Manu works), mini-markets and launderettes.

Even gender issues are nicely nailed: male colleagues are out of the house when she calls far more often than female ones, and marriages are tested, in one case dramatically, in a film that is political in the original sense of the word: it’s about people, and the fact that no man, or family, or company, or country, is an island.

Sabin
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Re: Cannes

Postby Sabin » Tue May 20, 2014 1:54 pm

It seems as though Marion Cotillard will be winning Best Actress.
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Sabin
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Re: Cannes

Postby Sabin » Mon May 19, 2014 4:59 pm

Again: I haven't seen August, Osage County but the only nominee I can say I actually liked of last year's nominees was Amy Adams. I admire what Cate Blanchett tries to do in Blue Jasmine, but yeesh! I haven't seen Mrs. Henderson Presents or North Country and I likely will not, but Felicity Huffman is quite good in Transamerica, and both Reese Witherspoon and Keira Knightley are fine.
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