Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two Days, One Night

Met friend Ken at TIFF to see the movie, a welcome escape from the harshness of winter. He and I share a love of France with a healthy scepticism about the French - so this was the perfect movie for us, a beautiful film by the Dardennes brothers, with the kind of slow pace that only a French (or Belgian, in this case) film can get away with.

What is most extraordinary about the film is Marion Cotillard, one of the greatest actresses alive today and justifiably nominated for an Oscar for this film. Her Piaf was unforgettable. Here she plays a very ordinary woman, a Belgian factory worker who was away from work due to depression and, about to return, finds out her co-workers were given the choice of letting her go or receiving a 1000 euro bonus. She has been let go. She's a difficult character and there's no sugar coating her depression, her self-pity, her slide into despair - despite the most loving and attentive husband in the world. I just wanted to give her a shake. Though I know that's what depression is - a catastrophic absence of hope.

And yet she rallies. The film is a journey into the heart of human generosity and kindness and its opposite. In the end, the filmmakers seem to be telling us, we're 50-50 good and bad, kind and mean, generous and selfish. But there's hope. There is kindness and courage and love, and so there's hope.

I laughed at the end, thinking of what an American director would have done with this script. First, the actress would always have been made up and gorgeous, whereas Cotillard, stunning though she is, is always wearing the same tank top and jeans and no makeup. She's an infuriating character, very real. The ending is as happy as a defeat can be. Life is complicated.

It's not the kind of film I'd say, rush right out now and see it, like The Backward Class. But it's the kind that will stay inside, lodged in my heart.

And ... my friends are being gentle and kind. It's as if there has been a death in the family, the announcement from Jon Stewart. People know how much he means to me. I adore him, and the hole in my life, in countless lives, will be vast. However, as my friend Angus just wrote on Facebook about Jon - "The king is dead. Long live John Oliver!" Step up to the plate, John. We beg you.

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