Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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Tag Archives: Catherine Salée

Two Days, One Night (2014)

TwoDaysposterTypical office drama.

Early one Friday morning, while lying motionless in her bed and not wanting to pick up the phone, Sandra (Marion Cotillard) gets word from her husband (Fabrizio Rongione) that her job may be possibly on the line. According to her most trusted co-worker, a total of sixteen had apparently all taken a vote to receive a pay-grade, so long so as they got rid of Sandra to begin with. Whatever the reasons behind Sandra’s firing may have been, is totally unknown, but all Sandra knows now is that she has to go to each and everyone of these co-worker’s and see if she can get them to change their mind about their initial decision. Or, if anything, at least see the situation from her point-of-view. However, mostly due to the fact that Sandra may already be battling some sort of problem with depression, the weekend turns into a small adventure of sorts, where she talks to people she may not have talked to before and, for better and for worse, gets a chance to see what it is that they have to say about her, her work-performance, or why exactly it is that they want this pay-increase to begin with.

Wait till she bitch-slaps them all, Three Stooges-style.

Wait till she bitch-slaps them all, Three Stooges-style.

On the surface, Two Days, One Night seems so incredibly simple that you could practically write a short story about it. However, the way in which co-writers/directors Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne allow for this story to play-out, it’s anything but. Meaning that while we do get a relatively straight-forward glimpse into the life of one woman’s struggle to keep her job, as well as her sanity, there are certain under-lining themes and ideas that make this story than just what’s presented to us as is. What one person may see as a clear statement on the cut-throat business-world that’s been created for our society and those who decide to get involved with it, no matter what social-class they’re apart of – another may see as a story about a woman just trying to keep her job.

I guess, what it all really comes down to is whether you’re the viewer who likes to think long and hard about what you’re watching? Or, whether you’re the viewer who likes to sit down, watch what’s in front of you, enjoy it for all that it’s worth, have it end, and simply go on with your day, as if nothing had been seen or digested in the brain? I’m not saying one viewer is better than the other, but it’s just the certain idea that went through my head while watching this.

Because, yes, while I’d like to assume I am the kind of viewer in the formerly-mentioned party, a part of me was thinking that there’s a certain bit of this movie that is all too simple to really be about anything else except just what’s presented to me. Sure, the idea that this one woman could lose her job, because of excessive greed and possible manipulation from the higher-ups is brought to the table and, in some instances, even confronted as evil, but reasonable. These are short, slight moments that made me feel as if I was watching something made for my thinking, living-self.

Then, there were a few instances in which I felt like this movie was just taking a simple premise, and keeping it as that. Normally, I don’t have a problem when a film maker settles on the option of making their own movie a piece of free-thinking, non-heavy entertainment, but in this case, I didn’t want that. I wanted more meat, skin and bones to my story, rather than just this French gal walking around town, going door-to-door and seemingly having the same conversation with people she kinda/sorta/maybe knows. You could make the argument that each and everyone of those conversations that the French gal has at least brings out something new/interesting to these supporting characters and put the final decision into a wider-perspective, but at the end of the day, that’s all it feels like.

Once again, that’s not a slight against the Dardenne Brothers for giving me something simple and at least sticking with that, because, for the most part, it’s good what they already have to be shown. The narrative is strong enough to make this woman’s interactions very compelling, and heck, even she’s a very solid character. Although, yes, it’s very hard to pin-point what it is exactly that’s going on so wrong in the head of her, there’s an idea that while Sandra may be a bit of a basket case, she is still, like you or I, a human being who is deserving of a job, and all of the perks that come along with it. Because we’re able to identify with Sandra, her interactions with those around her make a lot more sense when put into perspective as to why the hell she’s fighting for her job in the first place, and why it may matter more to those around her who love and depend on her the most.

All he wants is for his wife to keep her job, so that they can maintain their families health and stability. What a pest!

All he wants is for his wife to keep her job, so that they can maintain their families’ health and stability. What a pest!

It also helps, too, that Sandra is played quite well and effectively by Marion Cotillard, an actress who, I feel, is incapable of giving a poor performance in anything she shows her wonderfully exotic face in.

Here as Sandra, Cotillard digs deep into what may have made this woman tick so frequently and dangerously to begin with, but she also digs deep enough that we get an idea of what makes her worth rooting for, even when it seems like the ball is nowhere near her home-field. While it seems all too obvious that she may lose this opportunity to keep her job, there’s a small feeling of optimism constantly flowing throughout that makes it seem like, hell, she could pull this off by just simply having others feel sorry for her and, as a result, pity her. With those expressive eyes of Cotillard’s, there’s always the idea that whatever Sandra is going to do next, to whom, and why, it’s never calculated and never fully predictable. One second, she could be as quiet and as lovely as a bee buzzing on a hot summer day; another, she could be ready to crack her own head open for everybody to view the torment, agony and pain she seems to be going through on a regular basis.

Through it all though, Cotillard is constantly engaging and makes you feel that maybe while this woman probably wasn’t the best worker, she still doesn’t deserve to get stiffed from her job. At least not like this, that is. Then again, nobody deserves to be fired from their job without their full well-knowing, or better yet, their presence being dully noted. Maybe that’s the way our economy has turned – it’s making those who lose their jobs, lonely, sad and depressing individuals that probably had it coming to them, even if that’s not true to begin with. But, most importantly, it’s making those who keep their jobs, or at least, those who intend on keeping their jobs, to become selfish, mean, nasty, money-grubbing son-of-a-bitches that may have a moral code they want to stick with, but when it comes to sustaining the health and wealth of those that they love, they lose a bit of what makes them so human to begin with.

That’s just the world we live in, everybody. So try to make as much money as you can. Just do make sure that it is in a legal manner.


Consensus: Sometimes too simple for its own good, Two Days, One Night still compels by giving an all-too-realistic view into the life of a person who could be you or I, except she looks, acts, and is beautifully well-done by Marion Cotillard.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

Sometimes, all you need is a hug. Or a minimum-wage job to keep a roof over your head, but hey, it's a work-in-progress here, people.

Sometimes, all you need is a hug. Or a minimum-wage job to keep a roof over your head, but hey, it’s a work-in-progress here, people.


Blue Is The Warmest Color (2013)

Oh. So that’s how “it’s done”.

15-year-old Adèle (Adèle Exarchopoulos) is like any normal female in high-school. She wants to do well in school so that she has a better future; she wants to be sexually-active so that she can have something to brag about; she wants to meet guys and go out with them; and hell, she just wants to like guys in general. However, after finding herself unfulfilled in various attempts at finding the right guy that she likes both in the bed, and out. So, that’s when she decides to change things up on and start swinging the same side, especially since she falls head-over-heels with an openly-lesbian college student named Emma (Léa Seydoux). Together, the two share a lesbian love that is like your normal romance between two humans, except that Adèle wants to keep it hidden away from some people, like her parents, just so that she won’t be judged. But all social-issues aside, nothing else matters when you’re in love, which also means, the harder the blows are going to start coming at you.

If you’ve heard anything about this flick in the past year or so, more than likely, you’ve heard some weird and crazy things. For starters, the movie is rated NC-17, which in and of itself is already made for some controversy, due to the numerous graphic, all-up-in-your-grill sex scenes that involve plenty of female-on-female action. Secondly, director Abdellatif Kechiche has been publicly feuding with his two leading ladies, all because, as they say, they felt uncomfortable by the way he was filming those said sex scenes. My personal opinions aside, what you sign up for, is what you get, ladies. However, that’s just me and I’m insensitive. Whatever.

Anyway, there has been plenty of other controversy surrounding this movie that have to do with final-cuts, people being sued and eventually making amends. But at the end of the day, when all of the controversy is left being discussed and highlighted, we still have a beautiful movie about a two people falling in love. Yes, they are in fact two WOMEN that fall in love here, but that’s not what matters the most. The fact that these two are both females who live in France and can’t really share their love with the whole world around them, is just a crutch used for the bigger issue at hand: Love itself.

Her and I share the same face in that same type of situation. The only difference is that it's usually my dog waking me up caused I missed the alarm for the fifth time.

Her and I share the same face in that same type of situation. The only difference is that it’s usually my dog waking me up caused I missed the alarm for the fifth time.

Oh, why yes, yes, yes. There have been plenty of romantic-dramas in the past couple of years, and while none of them have really knocked my boots off, none of them have really been bad either. They’ve just been so “meh”, all because I like to think I know what love and relationships feel like. Most movies don’t really seem to nail that utter feel down the way that I imagine it my mind. And then this movie comes around, and totally changes the landscape.

What I like so much about Kechiche’s direction is that this, for lack of a better term, not-stylized in any way, shape or form. Basically, what you see is what you’re going to get; which, for worse, usually means a lot of shaky-cam, uncomfortable close-ups and scenes that seem to end and begin out of nowhere. That said, I think for a story like this, you don’t really need an inspired hand to show it, you just need to tell it with all of the compelling emotions, feelings and thoughts that breathe inside of it, and then I think you’re pretty good. So say what you will about his directing when it comes to the overlong sex scenes, the guy had a vision that was as simple and normal as they come, yet, they do wonders for the movie as it just lets the story give us what it wants to give, and then some.

Everything from beginning-to-end, from the first moment Adèle notices Emma, to the last time they ever lock eyes thinking the same thing, there’s a genuine feel to it. Not for a single moment, except for a couple of times at the end, did I ever feel like I was watching a phony romance, with two stock-characters who would never meet in a million years, or if they did, actually go so far as to start loving one another. Nope, that is not the case here. Instead, what we do have is a story of two people who feel perfect for each other in many ways, making the other happy, pleased and hopeful for what may come next in their lives; but at the same time, also notice that they aren’t, as human-beings, perfect. Like most human-beings, they tend to screw-up, make mistakes and do something that they awfully regret later on in life, but the fact that these two are in love, are together for some time and share so much together, so much more than just fluids and sexual-positions, there’s an heightened-level of emotion added to it.

Most of the time, I found myself and my past relationships in this one, but then again, that might just be me. For instance, the scene where Adèle hosts a house party that Emma throws for all of her artsy-fartsy, pretentious a-holes that she calls friends, is pitch perfect. You can tell that Adèle is this type of shy girl that’s only talkative and up-beat in her own personal-quarters, but anywhere else that’s outside of her comfort zone, she might as well be mute or not even exist. Hence why this whole scene is so painfully heartbreaking, yet, brutally realistic to watch, because as the night continues on and she begins to get more and more comfortable with these people, you can still tell that there’s a barrier she holds between her and these people; a barrier which contains the whole “her”, the same “her” that only Emma, and Emma alone knows. When you see her try her damn near hardest to connect and impress these fools, you can’t help but look away, but also realize at the same time: That might have been you at one point in your life, in love or not. And if not, then don’t worry, it’ll be coming to you very soon.

There’s plenty of moments like that in the whole movie, which makes sense why it doesn’t matter a lick that this is a romance-drama concerning two women. See, while the movie does bring up a few points about same-sex couples, who deserves to know about them and who doesn’t, the movie doesn’t go as far or as detailed with that angle because it’s superfluous to the real message this movie is trying to drive on home: Love is a beautiful aspect to have in life, yet, it is also a painful, terrible one as well. Everything about this movie will either make you laugh, cry, get nostalgic or have you call up that old ex of yours that deserves another try, and sometimes, it’s even all at the same time!

Just take my word for it and know that this movie will be staying with you for quite awhile, even when it is overlong at 3-hours. Even then.

Perhaps the strongest asset this movie has in its arsenal is the cast, but most importantly, the 19-year-old gal who plays our sexually-confused woman for the next three hours, Adèle Exarchopoulos. If you have never heard of, or even seen Exarchopoulos in anything ever before, no need to fear, because it doesn’t seem like many others have either. And that’s not a gripe against her at all, because I feel like, especially after this movie hits the States big time, her name is going to be popping up a whole lot more and more, as it totally should.

What’s so stunning about Exarchopoulos in this role is how she’s able to convey any sense of emotion she has dug into her character, just through a simple movement of her eyes or body. She’s got those expressive eyes that tell you one hundred things, at one time, while her body-motions let you know exactly how she is feeling in a certain environment, whether she’s comfortable with her surroundings or not. She doesn’t even have to say anything, and you already know what she’s feeling at any given moment in time, altogether, making this character one compelling lady to watch, especially since this is her movie, and she gets to show every side of her. Exarchopoulos doesn’t shy away from giving us every look, side or cranny that Adèle has, which is even more impressive considering that we first meet her when she’s 15, and follow her all throughout her early-20’s, where changes in personality, looks and taste-buds change at a very rapid, spit-fire pace.

Cheer up, dammit! You're in love! Don't take that ish for granted!

Cheer up, dammit! You’re in love! Don’t take that ish for granted!

We all see Adèle for what she is, what she isn’t, what she’s feeling and what she wants to feel, and yet, like I mentioned before, she isn’t perfect. However, she doesn’t have to be a perfect person to be watchable or even the least bit of sympathetic; she just has to give us a real reason why she matters to us, and why she deserves to be loved, especially by somebody like Emma. Obviously Exarchopoulos deserves mucho credit for going all-in when it comes to the sex scenes, but that doesn’t matter when you think about the rest of her performance and just how every second she has up on screen, she makes count, having you understand and feel for her character more and more as you follow her on this journey. Adèle was already a beautiful character to begin with, but Exarchopoulos makes her absolutely stunning in any way you can imagine a female character like hers as being. She may not even get nominated, but if I had to, she’d be my pick for Best Actress this year. So far, that is. However, I still feel pretty damn confident.

And it isn’t like Léa Seydoux is chopped-liver either as Emma, the one that falls for and catches Adèle’s attention right away, it’s just obvious who has the more meatier role out of the two. Still, with that being said, Seydoux still gives us a beautiful character in which we can understand why she’d fall for this young 15-year-old and even go so far as to drop everything she has in her life, just for her. Together, the two make a beautiful couple that may last in many people’s minds for ages and ages to come. However, let’s just hope those people’s minds don’t automatically go straight to their passionate, overtly sexual love scenes together. Although, that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

Consensus: The three-hours may be a bit unneeded, but Blue Is The Warmest Color whole overall production doesn’t get jaded one bit as it is not only a beautiful picture about the romance between two women, but a beautiful picture about romance itself, and all the raw, unrelenting and loving feelings that go with it.

9 / 10 = Full Price!!

The eventful first kiss, with an annoying sun in the background, just watching your ever move.

The eventful first kiss, with an annoying sun in the background, just watching your ever move. Whatta a clock-block.

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