chapter  7
13 Pages

Depression as aesthetic answer to the socioeconomic crisis in Two Days, One Night

WithTobias Dietrich

After the financial crisis in 2008, the films of Belgian filmmaker brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne obtain a new gravity to the debate of the marginalized individual who struggles to survive at the edge of subsistence level. Their drama Two Days, One Night (2014) poses a depressive woman's fight for employment as an aesthetic answer to this caesura's consequences. Here, existential fear emerging from economic crisis, exclusion, and stress on the job manifests in symptoms of affective disorder whose complex reciprocity is to be examined as mental crisis in an aesthetic context. In search for sense of community in neoliberal working structures, the film displays audiovisual strategies, such as itinerary storytelling and ways of shifting the illness narrative from the time being ill to the time of recovery, tending to a “postmorbum” (coined term; defined later in text) cinema. Outlining the latent impact of absent mental and economic instability on the characters, they reflect the relations both between the heroine and her coworkers and between the film and the audience. This chapter aims to point out the drama's aesthetic, narrative, and performative means, and in so doing it provides an analysis of how post-2008 storytelling deals with sociocultural, economic, and narrative challenges, portraying mental illness to investigate forms of solidarity.