Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Two Days, One Night

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Last week I watched Two Days, One Night, and it reminded me once again of the lack of depth in mainstream American cinema. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good action thriller like Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, but the films that are widely popular often do not challenge us like many smaller independent and foreign films. I don’t think we can place all the blame on the major movie studios, even though they handle the content that is released. I think they often give us what they think we will want. Most of us want entertainment, not art. We want to be distracted, not asked to contemplate the deeper things of life.

Two Days, One Night is a foreign film with little action. For viewers accustomed to constantly shifting camera angles and multiple explosions, this film will feel dreadfully slow. However, if our criteria for judging a film is how many explosions it has and if it can keep our attention, then we may need to reconsider our expectations for what is good and what is not. Two Days, One Night demands our patience, but the payoff is well worth it.

The story the film tells is rather simple. Sandra (Marion Cotillard) has been off work for some time. When she decides to go back, she discovers the boss has made the employees choose between her or a significant bonus. The small company cannot afford both, and so a vote is going to be held on Monday to determine the outcome. Sandra spends the weekend visiting her co-workers to ask them to vote for her.

The film can feel monotonous at times. The same situation is repeated multiple times. Sandra goes to a door, rings the bell, and then explains why she is there. What is interesting is that even though these situations throughout the film resemble one another they are each different because Sandra is speaking to different people. It is a fascinating character study. Some people are eager to help. Some people only care about the money. Some people really want to help Sandra, but they also desperately need the money. They need the money to pay their bills or put their kids through school.

Toward the end of the film, Sandra visits a man who is a new employee. When she presents her dilemma to him, he begins to contemplate his situation. He could use the money to help provide for his family. If he votes for Sandra, then he will be persecuted at work by those who want the bonus. His life will be made more difficult by voting for Sandra, but he also says, “This is what God wants me to do.” The dilemma that he and others are facing is bigger than the needs and wants of two individuals. It is about what is right and wrong.

In Two Days, One Night the name of Jesus is never mentioned. God is only mentioned once. I don’t think the Dardenne brothers set out to make a Christian film, but that is exactly what they have given us. It is a film that asks us to consider how much we would sacrifice to help our neighbor. Jesus says the second greatest command is to love our neighbor as ourself. We know this. We talk about it, but what does it look like? Two Days, One Night shows us what it looks like and what it doesn’t. It is an exploration of what it means to love our neighbor as ourself.

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