Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne‘s Two Days, One Night has either opened or is due to open around Europe over the next month or two, and it will screen at both TIFF and the NYFF on 10.5. But U.S. distributor Sundance Selects is still thinking things over. I would be too if I was distributing. After seeing it in Cannes last May I called Two Days, One Night “another line-drive single…a low-key, no-frills, ploddingly earnest drama about factory workers being asked to make a choice between humanity and expediency after a co-worker (Marion Cotillard) has been told she’s being laid off…it’s a decently made but far-from-inspired film, roughly on the level of the Dardennes’ The Kid With The Bike.”

“Boiled down, Two Days, One Night is about a series of weekend conversations in which Cotillard asks this and that co-worker for their support. Her life is on the line — her home, her children’s welfare, her somewhat shaky marriage — but she doesn’t get down on her knees and beg. She holds on to her dignity but she doesn’t mince words either — she and her family are looking at a very trying situation if she loses her job. A certain number agree to support her but others are regretfully unable to help, they say — they need the dough for this or that. A couple of guys are openly hostile to her. One weak supporter is afraid that management will find out that he’s voted in her favor and perhaps punish him for that.

“The bottom line is that the movie is almost entirely about medium shots of people talking. With the exception of a couple of brief physical conflict scenes and a mobile musical sing-along or two, it’s all done in moderation. The film delivers a somewhat unexpected ending with a certain ethical/moralistic finale that I agree with (i.e., it sends the right message), but I don’t think this makes the film an especially strong or profound work.

“The best I can say about Two Days, One Night is that (a) it’s cinematically sufficient but no great shakes, and (b) its values are ones that I share and support. I don’t know what else I’m supposed to say. I know I won’t be strong-armed into submitting to the Dardennes by soft-pedaling my reactions.”