Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne‘s “Two Days, One Night” is one of the more notable films in this year’s Oscar foreign language race, and one of the more unusual ones in the entire Dardenne catalog. The brothers, who direct together, specialize in low-key, naturalistic cinema and usually stay away from movie stars – but the lead performance in the subtle but moving “Two Days” is played by Marion Cotillard, one of the biggest international stars to come out of France in the past decade.
The Dardennes cast Cotillard as Sandra, a young mother who must spend a weekend trying to persuade her co-workers in a solar-panel factory to save her job by forgoing their own bonuses.
As the film’s trailer points out, much of “Two Days, One Night” consists of Sandra having essentially the same conversation with a series of different people – a fact, Cotillard told theWrap, that initially frightened her.
“When I first read the script, I got kind of scared and at the same time excited,” she said. “It was a challenge to give life to almost the same dialogue all movie long. But then I started to study my dialogue, and every slight change became a big thing.”
Cotillard’s character is also suffering a deep depression and recovering from some sort of breakdown, but the 2007 Oscar-winner (for “La Vie en Rose”) says her research into the effects of depression was sharply limited.
“The only research that I did was reading the Xanax label,” she said. “I needed to know the effects of Xanax because I had never taken it before and I didn’t want to try to take one to see what it was.”
Sundance Selects/IFC bought “Two Days, One Night” after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival in May, and plan to release it in Los Angeles and New York in December, with a national rollout to follow.
Watch the “Two Days, One Night” trailer, which is debuting exclusively at TheWrap, above.