A number of Dardenne regulars appear in supporting roles. The great Olivier Gourmet has a bit part as the factory’s loathsome foreman, Fabrizio Rongione (Rosetta’s erstwhile boyfriend) plays Cotillard’s long suffering husband and that Kid with the Bike, Tomas Doret, is all grown up and makes a brief appearance a factory worker. While it’s good to see these familiar faces, it’s Cotillard who must do the heavy lifting and the script often restrains her and doesn’t give her a lot to work with. However, Cotillard can signal more with her eyes than most actors can convey with reams of dialogue and - like Rosetta and her wine bottle fish snares - the Dardennes are setting a clever and subtle trap.
Two Days, One Night brings a bitter irony in its denouement as Cotillard is presented with a face saving solution; one that may change her from hapless prey into ruthless predator. Here we feel her predicament in full force, having been given enough information to create informed opinions and sympathies. Suddenly it’s clear that’s been the Dardenne’s game all along and once again they’re several chess moves ahead. It’s easy to numbly regard unknown lives as mere statistics, but behind every number there is a face, a life and a personal struggle to survive. It’s always worse when it happens to someone you know, and the Dardennes have forced us to take the time and make the emotional investment to get to know yet another struggling soul on society’s fringe. And this time we had to work for it, which makes our reward all the sweeter.