I cannot imagine a better way of opening SIFF’s French Cinema Now series than with this excellent feature by the Dardenne brothers. It is about the state of the European soul, which is presently possessed by the otherworldly power of the euro. The film concerns a woman, Sandra (Marion Cotillard), who works at a small factory that makes solar panels in Liège, the third-largest city in Belgium. Sandra is a mother of two, she has a loving husband who is a cook at a cafeteria, and she is about to lose her job because her mean boss has turned her coworkers against her. Sandra was absent from the factory for a time due to mental health issues; during her absence, the boss discovered everything worked well without her. The boss then offers his employees a choice: They can receive 1,000 euros each to comply with Sandra’s dismissal, or keep Sandra with no bonuses. Sandra almost loses her mind on hearing the news. Her job means everything to her, and she must now beg for it—beg each coworker to reject the boss’s big bonus. This is a brilliant plot, and one that speaks directly to our post-crash times. Do not miss this opening night. recommended

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