Saturday, May 03, 2014

2014 Cannes Check #5: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne

The master filmmakers brothers from Belgium are what we can consider Cannes regulars and belong to a very exclusive group of directors that have won twice the Palme d'Or with Rosetta (1999) and L'Enfant (2005). They also have won Best Screenplay with Le Silence de Lorna (2008) and Grand Prize of the Jury with Le gamin au vélo (2011).

This is their sixth time in competition and ninth time in Cannes, with a history that started in 1987 with the screening of their first feature film (before they did short and documentaries), Falsch in the Quinzaine, came back again in 1996 with La Promesse and twelve years after their first visit win their first Palme d'Or with Rosetta. From then on their films are premiered at the most prestigious film festival and his latest, Deux Jours, Une Nuit is no exception as is in this year competition.

The brothers filmmaking style is peculiar and particular as to me it is a mixture of soft raw-realism bordering documentary-like (some call it "naturalism") with a very hypnotic narrative development that absolutely grabs the viewer and does not let him go until well after the movie is over. Then they are able to get from well-known actors extremely good performances but the same happens with non-actors, which to me is impressive as they made both type of performers to reach almost the same levels of professional performance, many done more with face and body expressions than with words.

Perhaps not many have made the following comparison but I feel that the Dardenne brothers filmmaking style can be compared to the early work of one of the Chinese Sixth Generation of Filmmakers. Yes, I find their style similar to the early work of Jia Zhang-ke (he is a jury member this year) but their main difference is that Jia Zhang-ke images/compositions/visuals tend to be breathtaking while Dardenne's tend to be natural/normal/bordering in pedestrian just like what the normal human being sees every day.

Have seen almost all their films, still have several documentaries and shorts to see, and find that their last five feature films show how much they have "perfected" their master style, so in a way expect that Two Days, One Night will continue to show their pursuit of perfection. This film in particular also calls my attention because Marion Cotillard, an actress I highly enjoy and follow her career.

Will the Dardenne win their third Palme d'Or to become the first in a third level of three-times Palme d'Or winners? I believe that eventually is going to happen but not sure if will happen this year, even when thinking about the style of the directors in the jury or the type of films of the actors, we can estimate that their styles are VERY similar to Dardenne's style, at least a lot more than any other director in the competition. So who knows, but the odds sites before the fest begins give not-high/not-low odds to win the top award, maybe the odds will change once we learn if film is NOT scheduled for the final days.

Basic Info about Deux Jours, Une Nuit (Two Days, One Night)
Directors: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Scriptwriters: Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Language: French
Runtime: 95 min
Production countries: Belgium, France and Italy
Production companies: Archipel 35, Eyeworks, Les Films du Fleuve, BIM Distribuzione.
Starring: Marion Cotillard

Plot Summary
Sandra has only one weekend to visit her colleagues and - with the help of her husband - convince them to sacrifice their bonuses so she can keep her job.

The Trailer

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