There is an inherent repetitiveness to the Dardenne Brothers’ latest sensation, yet this deliberately structured narrative never repeat itself into monotony. How they conjure up splendid mystery to each stranger we anticipate meeting demonstrates why they are cherished within film circles. The understated suspense behind discovering each strangers personality, background, relationship to Sanda, reaction to her and the minutia of differences in their reasoning for the decision they make is all beautifully crafted and terrifically tense viewing. It’s a richly rewarding, challenging and affecting journey spearheaded by a stupendous Marion Cotillard – so perfectly measured as Sandra – with a back catalogue of issues and a complexity of thought to each moment that pulsates through her and into us.
With a series of films rivaling Éric Rohmer’s tales of morality and devotion to exploring humanity on screen, here the Dardenne’s continue to squeeze every fiber of normality out of these people. This latest recipe is a ultra-palatable plateful which delicately mixes in subplots of depression and marriage vulnerability to enrich the full bodied film. The lasting appeal and thoughtfulness to the film is sustained through a simultaneous understanding and empathy with every co-worker of Sandra’s, yet an equal level for Sandra herself. The ending, which is built to and executed immaculately, clamps the lock on the consistent morality that the Dardenne’s present. The mirror is finally turned on Sandra and she reflects exactly what she has preached herself the past two days, with no deliberation at all in her reaction to the get out of jail free card laid in front of her. It’s all so uplifting and genuine.