The brilliant Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a woman who’s returning to work from sick leave only to find herself fired, apparently because her co-workers voted to receive their much-needed yearly bonuses and sacrifice her employment in return. She’s got one measly weekend before they vote again, so she makes the rounds and many humbling appeals.
This is a really interesting movie because while it presents a genuine hurdle, beautifully simple but so timely, it’s also a great hypothetical. Would you give up $1300 in your pocket to save someone else’s job? If she was a friend? If she was a stranger? If she’d do the same for you?
Solidarity: what the fuck does it mean to you? Are you a team player, or are you out for number one? Would you be more comfortable betraying her by secret ballot? Could you look her in the eye and tell the truth? Can you put your desire for a new patio above her need to feed her children?
We know that Sandra’s been away on medical leave. It’s hinted that it may have been mental-health related. And of course the work of convincing people, some she’d consider friends, to not ruin her life just to pad their own, is humiliating. She doesn’t want to beg. She’s riddled with doubt. But the fight also seems to strengthen her somehow; she seems invigorated.
The Dardenne brothers are known for sensitive, brooding work, but this is their first venture with an A-lister. Cotillard, for her part, doesn’t look like a star in this movie. She looks like a harried, anxious woman. Jean-Pierre said of her “Hiring such a famous actress was an additional challenge for us. Marion was able to find a new body and a new face for this film.” Although I’ve always found her to be stupidly talented, watching this movie back to back with Midnight in Paris, where she plays a woman infamously beautiful, it’s clear that part of her talent is in adhering chameleon-like to her characters.
I really liked this movie and am heart-broken to have watched it alone (I’m Oscar-cramming before vacation) because I need to discuss it. Have you seen it? How did you measure up?