Monday, December 29, 2014

“Elevation” and “Two Days, One Night”

Elevation from Roundtable Pictures on Vimeo.

Update: Marion Cotillard has been nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for her role in the Dardennes' "Deux jours, une nuit."

The new film by the Dardenne brothers, “Deux jours, une nuit,” (“Two days, one night”) is causing quite a stir, mostly due to the rapturous reviews that Marion Cotillard is receiving for her portrayal of a working class woman who loses her job and tries to win it back. Cotillard is Sandra, who learns that her coworkers have been able to cover her shifts during a lengthy illness (she has a breakdown) and have been promised a bonus of 1,000 euros if they agree to lay her off. The two days and one night of the title describe the timespan that Sandra has to get her colleagues to change their minds. She needs her job, but they also could use the extra money.

The reason I have an interest in this film by these Belgian filmmakers is because the hook of the plot is almost the same one as a small movie that I wrote a few years ago. In our film, called “Elevation,” a poor working man (Scotty) finally gets a meeting with his boss to hear about the raise he has put in for. His boss (Natalie) tells the worker that the raise has been approved, but only if he fires one of the workers in his department. “Otherwise, we don’t have the numbers,” he is told. The worker’s predicament is almost the same as those of the co-workers in the Dardennes’ film. 

I am decidedly not, in any way, shape or form implying anything about where the Dardennes got the idea for their film. The world is big enough, and certainly similar enough, for people to happen upon the same idea. The thought that the Dardennes have even seen our film is also patently absurd. So anyone who thinks I’m claiming ownership of the idea can quickly dismiss that. (Our film is decidedly Kubrickian.)

It’s just that any chance of turning our little film into a feature is shot, because now it’s been made, and apparently made beautifully. (I have not seen the film yet.)

Our film is also imperfectly made. The sound is too low in some spots, and the camerawork is off-putting to some. We were, at the time, trying to adopt a Dogme 95 approach to filmmaking (it was made with a crew of five, including the actors.) 

Anyway, check out our little film, and if anyone has seen “Two Days, One Night,” and “Elevation,” I’d be interested in how you reacted to each. — Lars Trodson