Archives for posts with tag: mental illness

Two Days One Night

Deux Jours, Une Nuit is a dreary and mundane French “art” film directed by Belgium’s Dardenne brothers. Marion Cotillard, whom American audiences may remember as the femme fatale Miranda in The Dark Knight Rises, stars as Sandra, a working mother whose poor psychological health has kept her at home and away from her job for some time. In her absence, her boss has given her coworkers an offer they find hard to refuse: either take Sandra back at their present wage rate, or agree to terminate her in exchange for a raise for everyone else. Due to irregularities in the circumstances of their initial decision, which has (unsurprisingly) gone against her, the workers are to be given a chance to hold a second vote. Sandra now has one weekend – the two days and one night of the title – to locate and approach each of her coworkers to convince them to take her back and forfeit the promised raise.

Nothing about Sandra, who suffers from depression and spends most of the movie moping, despairing, and gobbling Xanax tablets, is particularly interesting, and one suspects that this is intentional; she stands for the common person who is too often forgotten. Scenes of her intermittently breaking down and being encouraged by her sensitive husband (Fabrizio Rongione) to persevere and not to give up on her peers and their dormant capacity for selflessness are, unfortunately, somewhat repetitive, and not the strongest material to support an entire feature film. What ultimately saves and elevates Two Days, One Night above the level of tedium is the earnestness of the film’s key performances.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

3.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Two Days, One Night is:

6. Anti-American. The selfish Julien (Laurent Caron), a collaborationist co-conspirator with the workplace management, wears a “USA” patch on his shirt, perhaps signifying his sympathy with neoliberalism.

5. Anti-marriage. Sandra’s coworker Anne (Christelle Cornil) determines to leave her husband after years of being bullied.

4. Anti-drug. Sandra’s abuse of Xanax is worrying to her husband, whose concerns are shown to be warranted when she attempts suicide with an overdose.

3. Pro-union. The filmmakers, in an interview featured on the Criterion Blu-ray, say that their intent was to illustrate the “savagery” of companies whose workforces are not unionized. “We thought that with a nonunion company, we’d be closer to the raw truth of the social situation people experience today.”

2. Ostensibly anti-capitalistic, with workers pitted against each other by capital.

1. Dysgenic, pro-immigration, and crypto-corporate. Two Days, One Night is fundamentally disingenuous and misleading in framing the plight of the western worker as an individual rather than a national-racial dilemma. People are, of course, individuals on one level of their experience; but the inundation of European and European-descended peoples with Third World undesirables is precisely what has suppressed the typical worker’s wages and standard of living. In the end, when the tables are turned, and Sandra has the option of taking her job back on the stipulation that Alphonse (Serge Koto), an African, will be terminated, viewers are expected to be inspired that Sandra, playing the good goy, makes the wrong decision and sacrifices her own livelihood to save the congoid. Two Days, One Night goes out of its way to depict non-white immigrants as gentle, helpful souls and credits to their new communities, and even includes an African doctor (Tom Adjibi) who saves Sandra’s life after her overdose. To this extent, then, the film promotes a de facto corporate-state agenda.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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The Homesman

Pioneer life is a neglected subject on twenty-first century movie screens – not being sufficiently hyper-violent or anus-oriented to guarantee rentals, one imagines. It may, however, also be because a movie like The Homesman blows to smithereens any goofy notions of “white privilege” or of American whites’ allegedly unearned prosperity having been built on the backs of slaves. Existence for the earliest Midwestern settlers was brutal, as is brought to vivid life in this impressive film from writer-director-star Tommy Lee Jones, who plays a scoundrel drafted by upstanding citizen Hilary Swank to transport three crazed women back east by wagon. This being ultra-Zionist Haim Saban’s production, however, it goes without saying that other, less savory currents are also at work in the film.

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Homesman is:

6. Anti-Christian. One of the women, clearly deranged by the one-two punch of frontier life and old-time religion, imagines herself to be the Almighty and threatens, “God will strike you down!”

5. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). Viewers who blink may miss a shot of black slaves in a wagon, reminding the audience that black people had it even harder. When Jones tells an anecdote about killing Indian horse thieves, Swank’s facial reaction gives the viewer to understand that his insensitivity has disturbed her. Jones, encountering another group of Indians, gives them a horse to make them leave him alone. The idea would seem to be that whites, if they want to live in peace with minority neighbors, ought to accustom themselves to such life-or-death generosity.

4. Pro-gun. Guns are a handy frontier equalizer, especially for a woman.

3. Bolshevik. When wealthy businessman James Spader refuses to give room or board to Jones and company because they are not “socially acceptable”, the protagonist, in one of The Homesman’s more colorful lines, tells Spader’s party, “Your mothers and your sisters and your wives and your daughters will cuss your broke-dick souls!” He later returns to the inn where Spader’s group is staying and sets it ablaze, burning them alive.

2. Anti-family. From the sickening moment the Saban Films logo comes up onscreen, the informed viewer knows that something evil is afoot; and the institutions of marriage and family really come in for a drubbing in this otherwise exceptional film, unfortunately. “You hate me! I hate you!” These words set the tone for married life on the prairie in The Homesman. “You will give me a son,” insists a husband as he fucks his wife as impersonally as some robotic movie Nazi. Further obsessing over his “seed”, he borderline-rapes her as her mother, lying beside her in the bed, pretends not even to notice. Conventional domesticity is equated with horror as a woman’s darning drudgery unexpectedly turns into an act of self-mutilation with a sewing needle. In The Homesman’s most shocking scene, one of the women throws her baby down the hole in an outhouse. She is at no point treated as a murderer, but regarded as a victim of circumstances.

1. Feminist. Swank is “as good a man as any man hereabouts”, her character furnishing a model of culture and propriety in contrast with loutish, dirty men. After twice (or more, one suspects) having her marriage proposals refused by men undeserving of her (who say she is “too bossy” and “plain”), she quietly hangs herself as a proto-feminist martyr of sorts, a woman ahead of her time for whom the Nebraska territory simply offered no opportunities equal to her personal merit and talents. Jones, by contrast, is prepared to meet his death only with copious begging and whimpering.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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