JAKE – For Dardennes and Cotillard, cinematic love at first sight

For Dardennes and Cotillard, cinematic love at first sightThe great reservoir of the Dardenne brothersandrsquo nine feature films has been their Belgium hometown, to which theyandrsquove returned again and again to plumb the daily struggles of the poor and the working class, and writ them large on the big screen.Usually casting a mix of local professional and nonprofessional actors, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenneand#39s Seraing is without cinematic parallel.

Itand#39s a town not unique, but globally typical as a once-prosperous, now depressed post-industrial city a place as good as any to tell the trials of regular people: a trailer-park teenager, an impregnated young woman on welfare, an abandoned boy.andldquoItand#39s as if you had a friend who you used to see in the prime of life and resplendently healthy and you meet him 15 years later and he looks completely disheveled,andrdquo Luc Dardenne said of Seraing in an interview with his brother through a translator andldquoYou say to yourself: I want to tell the story of what happened.

andrdquoTheir latest, andldquoTwo Days, One Night,andrdquo Marion Cotillard plays Sandra, a dejected woman whoand#39s been fired from her job at a small solar panel plant. Her colleagues, given the choice of a $1,000 bonus or keeping her on, elect for the bonus.

But a friend of Sandraand#39s convinces the boss to hold a second vote, giving Sandra a weekend to visit her 16 colleagues at their homes.Driving with her husband from one to the next, Sandraand#39s journey becomes a powerful odyssey of fellowship and self-interest, and of her heroic summoning of courage.

andldquoThis is in praise of fragility, in praise of a fragile woman,andrdquo says Luc. andldquoItand#39s a woman who needs the help of others in order to move forward.

andrdquoandldquoTwo Days, One Night,andrdquo which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, is the Dardennesand#39 first films starring a big name. They met Cotillard when they were co-producers of the 2012 film andldquoRust and Bone.

andrdquo Luc calls their initial encounter in an elevator andldquocinematic love at first sight.andrdquo Cotillard speaks in similar terms.

andldquoI felt that I could give them everything, anything,andrdquo she says. andldquoRight away there was a kind of osmosis thatand#39s kind of hard to explain.

Itand#39s like when you fall in love with someone right away you canand#39t explain why.andrdquoAs a devoted fan of the Dardennesand#39 movies (among them andldquoRosetta,andrdquo andldquoThe Son,andrdquo andldquoThe Kid With a Bikeandrdquo), Cotillard found herself experiencing the hard work that goes into crafting their rough-hewn realism There was a month of rehearsals and often dozens of takes during production.

Still beaming, she calls the shoot the best experience sheand#39s ever had making a movie.andldquoA lot of directors donand#39t talk about the audience, itand#39s almost a bad word on set.

[The Dardennes] talk about the audience all the time, and they really want to take the audience on a journey,andrdquo says Cotillard. andldquoItand#39s like a chef when he cooks, he wants you to love his cooking and make you happy.

andrdquoItand#39s an approach that has made the Dardennes — Luc is 60, Jean-Pierre is 63 — among the most lauded filmmakers in the world. Theyand#39ve twice won Cannesand#39 prestigious Palme dand#39Or, though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has given them a curiously cold reception.

andldquoTwo Days, One Nightandrdquo was Belgiumand#39s Oscar submission this year, but it surprisingly failed to make the shortlist for best foreign-language filmBut andldquoTwo Days, One Night,andrdquo while more conceptually plotted than most of their films, confirms the Dardennes as the eraand#39s pre-eminent chroniclers of working-class lives seen up-close, on the ground, often trailed by handheld cameras. For a time marked by growing inequality, no filmmakers are more vitally current than a pair of white-haired brothers from BelgiumandldquoWe have the feeling of making films — maybe weand#39re thinking too highly of ourselves — where weand#39re looking at the world straight on, looking at the world in the eye,andrdquo says Luc.

andldquoWe try to make it that the people that you see on the screen arenand#39t just the product of our manipulations. We want the film to breath and for the air to circulate.

andrdquoPerhaps they might have uncovered these movies anywhere, but the Dardennes found them in their own backyard.andldquoSeeing these people who were alone in the streets where we grew up, made us want to tell their stories,andrdquo says Jean-Pierre.

andldquoWhat does link all these films together is that they speak toward being or not being in solidarity. In that sense, yes, weand#39re repeatedly telling the same story.

andrdquo.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman