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Claire Denis’ visually stunning and sensual film explores a chance encounter between two strangers who meet in the middle of a transit strike and wind up changing their lives forever.
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Like the other films of French director Claire Denis, Friday Night exists in a realm of glances, skin, and dreams. Working with basic elements, Denis (whose previous films were the hypnotic Beau Travail and the scary Trouble Every Day) fashions an often-wordless liaison between a woman caught in a huge Paris traffic jam (there's a transportation strike going on) and the stranger she picks up in her car. Their brief encounter is the simplest of situations, but Denis grounds it in the exactly realized locations of their courtship: car interior, hotel room, late-night restaurant. And, of course, in the expressive faces of the two actors: Valerie Lemercier, best known for her comic roles, and Vincent Lindon (late of Chaos). The dreamlike rhythms of the piece will undoubtedly defeat some viewers, but if you give yourself over to the movie's spell, it will come alive. --Robert Horton
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