There exists no villains in this story, not even the boss that made his employees choose between receiving a bonus, or helping Sandra (Cotillard) keep her job.
Before the movie’s over, we discover that the decision was not born of malicious intent, but of necessity: the work only needs 16 people, not the 17 previously thought.
So, what is the right thing to do?
In a world in which Justice is arbitrarily applied and defined, everyone simply tries their best to survive amidst all the noise which surrounds us.
Did you go for the bonus at the expense of someone else’s job?
Maybe your own wife is unemployed.
But if so, then why would you want the same for someone else?
The Dardenne brothers show Sandra going from door to door, pleading her case, and none of the answers, however mad some can make us, can really be faulted.
Would we act differently? Could we really love our neighbor? How do any of us claim to be doing the right thing, when there are countless unconsidered reasons and explanations we simply cannot be aware of?
By film’s end, we know that no matter the circumstance or the person, as far as we are concerned, we should try to consider, really consider, our fellow human beings. We should try.