It competed for the Palme d'Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. It won the Sydney Film Prize at the 2014 Sydney Film Festival, was nominated for a BAFTA Award for Best Film Not in the English Language, nominated for two César Awards and for nine Magritte Awards, winning three, including Best Film and Best Director for Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. The film was selected as Belgium's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 87th Academy Awards, but was not nominated, though Cotillard received a Best Actress nomination for her performance in the film, making her the first actor or actress to be nominated for a Belgian film.
In Seraing, an industrial town near Liège, Belgium, Sandra is a young wife and mother, who works in a small solar-panel factory. She suffers a nervous breakdown and is forced to take time off from her job. During her absence, her colleagues realise they are able to cover her shifts by working slightly longer hours and the management proposes a €1,000 bonus to all staff if they agree to make Sandra redundant. Sandra later returns to work and discovers that her fate rests in the hands of her 16 co-workers, and she must visit each of them over the course of a weekend to persuade them to reject the monetary bonus. However, most of the co-workers need the proposed bonus for their own families and Sandra faces an uphill battle to keep her job before the crucial vote on Monday morning.
In the final scene, the factory workers have a second ballot, in which eight vote for her to keep the job, and eight vote to keep the bonus. As a result, Sandra will not keep her position.
However, the manager of the factory calls her into his office and agrees to give her the job of one of the others, a contract worker who voted in her favour. She turns it down – she now has the confidence to start anew, and pursue a new life for herself.Marion Cotillard as Sandra Bya
Fabrizio Rongione as Manu Bya
Catherine Salée as Juliette
Olivier Gourmet as Jean-Marc
Christelle Cornil as Anne
Pili Groyne as Estelle
Simon Caudry as Maxime
Batiste Sornin as M. Dumont
The film was a Belgian production with French and Italian co-producers. It was produced by Dardenne's Les Films du Fleuve with co-production support from France's Archipel 35, Italy's BIM Distribuzione and Belgium's Eyeworks Film & TV Drama. It received funding from the Flemish Audiovisual Fund, RTBF and Centre du cinéma et de l'audiovisuel. It received 500,000 euro from Eurimages. The total budget was seven million euros. Filming began in late June 2013 in Seraing, Belgium and was wrapped in September 2013.
Two Days, One Night premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival on 20 May 2014. The film was released in France on 21 May 2014 through Diaphana, and in Belgium on the same day through Cinéart. It was screened at the Sydney Film Festival on 9 June 2014 and at the Munich Film Festival on 29 June 2014. It was the closing film of the Norwegian Film Festival on 20 August 2014. The film had its North American premiere at the Telluride Film Festival on 29 August 2014 was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival on 9 September 2014, at the New York Film Festival on 5 October 2014, at Hamptons Film Festival on 10 October 2014, at the Mill Valley Film Festival on 11 October 2014 and at the Chicago Film Festival on 16 October 2014. It was the opening film of Valladolid Film Festival on 18 October 2014 and was screened at the Savannah Film Festival on 28 October 2014. and at AFI Fest on 7 November 2014.
The film was released in the United Kingdom via Artificial Eye on 22 August 2014. Sundance Selects distributed the film in the United States on 24 December 2014.
Two Days, One Night received critical acclaim after its premiere at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Cotillard's performance was highly praised and earned a 15-minute standing ovation. The film has a "certified fresh" score of 97% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 160 reviews with an average rating of 8.4 out of 10. The critical consensus states: "Another profoundly affecting work from the Dardenne brothers, Two Days, One Night delivers its timely message with honesty and clear-eyed compassion." The film also has a score of 89 out of 100 on Metacritic (based on 38 critics) indicating "universal acclaim".
Empire gave the film five out of five stars and described it as "a rare film of unforced simplicity, with an outstanding lead performance". Empire also chose Two Days, One Night as one of the 50 best films of 2014, ranked at number 44. The Hollywood Reporter praised the film and stated that it stands alongside Marion Cotillard's best work.
The film won the Sydney Film Prize at Sydney Film Festival "For its masterfully elegant storytelling, its dedication to a fiercely humanistic, super-realist worldview, its brave, essential commitment to community solidarity, and its celebration of a woman's power and vitality," said Jury President Rachel Perkins. Writing for The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw gave the film 5 stars, praising in particular Cotillard's "supremely intelligent performance."
Nicholas Barber of BBC gave the film four stars, praising Cotillard's performance saying that "she conveys a tremendous amount with the smallest, quietest gestures. When you see the fierce, tearful grin on her face after one successful encounter, and the sleepwalking shuffle she adopts when her depression threatens to engulf her, it’s plain that she is one of the finest cinema actors we have." Emma Dibdin of Digital Spy gave the film four stars, calling Cotillard "fascinating to watch" and said that "The physical sluggishness and emotional numbing of depression have seldom been better portrayed on screen, and yet Two Days One Night still emerges as a psychologically delving and quietly uplifting modern-day morality play."
The National Board of Review chose the film as one of the Top 5 Foreign Films of 2014. TIME Magazine ranked Cotillard's performance in the film as the fourth best performance of 2014, shared with her performance in The Immigrant.
In Spain, filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar made a list of the best films and performances of 2014, and included Cotillard's performance on his list of best foreign actresses.
On 19 September 2014, it was announced that Two Days, One Night is Belgium's submission for the foreign language film category at the 87th Academy Awards.