The premise is set up in the first few minutes: while she’s away her co-workers are told to vote: Sandra (Cotillard) can keep her job only if the other 16 forego their bonus. They vote for their bonuses. She has the weekend to change their minds one by one, and the camera barely leaves her for a moment. There’s no melodrama or pity-wallowing. It’s stark, and eerily real: the actors, the Belgian suburbs, the corporate ruthlessness. The only disarming thing about it is that, try as you might, you can make Marion Cotillard look only so plain and working class. She’s just too stunning.
But that’s a minor quibble. This film deserves the (still too scarce) accolades it’s collected, even if it isn’t exactly subtle about the societal points it’s trying to make. And I’d very much love to see Marion Cotillard get an Oscar for it. She may be one of the most underrated actresses working today, and part of that underestimation may come from just how beautiful she is.
Side note: while the TIFF Bell Lightbox is a superb film venue (especially for members with access to the lounge) it’s hard to enjoy a film in any theatre when the two idiots behind you won’t shut the fuck up. Nellie shushed them 60 seconds into the film, but they just started up again, especially toward the end. Didn’t matter how many times we shushed them, or gave them angry looks. Blah blah blah de blah blah wank. I wasn’t there, but when they first sat down behind us another gentleman — already seated in the row — recognized them, and got up and moved as far away as he could. I just wish he’d issued a general warning to the rest of us.
Anyway, we took note so as not to fall into the same trap next time, and left the Lightbox in search of food. We found it in round, flat form at Pizzeria Libretto, already a (pretty much) local favourite. I had a sausage pizza with a Dieu du Ciel Moralité IPA and a Flying Monkeys oatmeal stout; Nellie had Chardonnay and Primitivo with her prosciutto pizza. Love it there.
[2014 movie update] On Saturday night we watched Blue Ruin (imdb | rotten tomatoes) and it was AMAZING. I love movies that can pull off grand themes with, by the look of it, almost no budget. Savage and serene all at once. Watch it.
Cover photo by Earthworth, used under Creative Commons license