Sandra petitions her boss to take the vote again on Monday morning, once she has had a chance to talk to her co-workers, and spends her Saturday and Sunday visiting them in turn, making her case, appealing to their sense of solidarity.
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Her power on screen has less to do with what she says than how she looks – not in terms of her appearance, but in the way those teacup-sized eyes seem to drink up the world around her, collecting an entire film’s worth of feeling into a single gaze or glance.
Her very best scene in La vie en rose, the Édith Piaf biopic that won her an Oscar, a Golden Globe, a Bafta and a César, wasn’t the big performance of Non, je ne regrette rien at the Paris Olympia, cheesily but rightly held back for the film’s final curtain, but a smaller sequence in a New York concert hall, in which you don’t hear the actress say or sing a single word.
Marion Cotillard is the great silent film actress of our time.
True, she has yet to make a silent film and may never actually do so, but let’s not get hung up on technicalities.
Unknown faces are a crucial part of the Dardenne formula: the films have to feel as if they might be unfolding in real time around the corner. “I was a huge fan of their work, but I never thought I would have the opportunity to work with them,” she says.
“So of course when they asked me it was a huge surprise.” The Dardennes were less wary: they knew Cotillard was right for the role after meeting her on the set of the Jacques Audiard film Rust and Bone, which they co-produced.
Sandra is fighting for survival but also for her dignity – which, for Cotillard heroines, is often one and the same thing.
When I point out the link, she seems first confused, then surprised, as if it had never occurred to her.
But we live in a world where surviving makes up most of what we do.” In Two Days, One Night, though, the fight for survival feels different: it’s less heightened than it has been before, more risky and immediate.