"Two Days, One Night" by brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc
Dardenne, who are Cannes regulars and previously won the top
Palme d'Or prize, came across at a press screening as a "feelgood
film" despite a plot that deals with people on the lower rungs
of the middle class who risk slipping into poverty.
"Cannes favorite Marion Cotillard teams up with festival
veterans Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne for a brilliantly taut and
telling redundancy drama," critic Peter Bradshaw wrote for The
With five days to go before the top awards are announced on
Saturday, one industry critic praised the 12-day-long festival
for being "well rounded".
"We've seen some very good movies, I'd say, in all the sections
... and a fair number of ones that just make you shrug your
shoulders," Variety critic Jay Weissberg told Reuters.
"I think it has been a well-rounded festival, I think that's a
good word," he added.
The Dardenne film quickly jumped into the top rankings of
contenders to win the crowning Palme d'Or for best picture among
critics and professionals attending the prestigious festival
held in the Mediterranean seaside town.
Also highly ranked, according to a survey conducted by Screen
International magazine, are British director Mike Leigh's "Mr
Turner" about the last years of the pre-Impressionist painter
JMW Turner, and the psychological portrait "Winter Sleep" by
Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan.
Luc Dardenne said the brothers' film shows how personal contact
with co-workers by the distraught young mother Sandra, who has
recovered from depression but risks suffering a relapse due to
the crisis, can bring out another side in people.
"It wasn't easy to show solidarity...because there's a drop of
income," he said of the situation faced by the people Sandra
asks one by one over a weekend for their support in a vote at a
solar panel factory on Monday morning that will decide whether
they get a bonus or she keeps her job.
"Solidarity is a sort of moral commitment, it's based on a moral
decision," Dardenne said.
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While it is sometimes hard today to see the kind of solidarity that
drove social movements in the 1960s, "I think there are still people
as you see in the film, who show solidarity - that's the story
line," he said.
Cotillard, who won a Oscar for her 2007 portrayal of Edith Piaf in
"La Vie en Rose", said she enjoyed the challenge of playing the
working-class Sandra who becomes haggard as she wins over some
colleagues but others refuse and even threaten her physically for
proposing to take away the bonus.
"I'm really moved by people who cope despite circumstances, despite
handicaps," she said. "I learn a lot about the human condition when
I explore these peoples' souls."
INSPIRED BY FUKUSHIMA
Nature, and especially the power of a typhoon threatening a remote
island, plays a central role in Japanese director Naomi Kawase's
"Still the Water", another Palme d'Or contender.
Kawase, who is a Cannes regular and served on the prize jury last
year, said her film - showing a budding relationship between a
teenaged boy and girl whose respective families are beset by a
collapsed marriage and a dying mother - had been in part inspired by
the tsunami that hit Japan three years ago, causing the Fukushima
nuclear power plant disaster.
"One is struck initially by the beauty of nature...but you have this
fear that nature inspires," Kawase said.
"Three years ago as you know there was a major natural disaster in
Japan and a total catastrophe at Fukushima...It was nature that went
wild and what was moving and captivating is that despite peoples'
fears they continue to live in such a dangerous environment. That's
very moving indeed."
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)
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