Money only goes as far as we all agree to let it. It’s only worth anything because we all agree that it is and it’s only worth what we spend it on.
Groceries, rent, comics, Blu-rays, coffee. Cocaine. A shark cage. A waterproof sawed-off shotgun. A surly retired sailor that will captain a two-man vessel no questions asked. That’s what my money is worth. Because that’s what I use it for.
Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night) is a charming French film that explores all the different things money can be worth.
Marion Cotillard plays Sandra (but pronounced a little different, like in French), for whom money means the mortgage on the modest house her, her husband and her two children live in. Bouncing back from a bout with depression Sandra is finally ready to return to work only to discover there’s to be a vote amongst her coworkers between keeping her on as an employee or laying her off and in turn receiving a thousand euro (like, $10, I think) bonus each. Two Days, One Night follows Sandra on a weekend gauntlet during which she confronts her coworkers and asks that they vote for her to stay and give up their potential thousand euro bonuses. It’s a veritable assembly line turning out one supremely awkward (and French) conversation after another. But more than that it’s a thoughtful look into what exactly money is from person to person.
For one of Sandra’s coworkers money is the opportunity for a fresh start. For another money means the freedom to make independent decisions. For another it’s a balm easing the irritation of a sour marriage. Money can mean temptation. Money can mean charity. Money can mean guilt. For Sandra’s boss and a number of her peers money can mean power.
Cotillard received an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Sandra, and both the character and the film work together to paint a compelling portrait of the struggles that come with bouncing back from depression. But Two Days, One Night shines the brightest when it challenges the audience, much as it challenges Sandra, to take a moment and consider what exactly the paper in your wallet really is.