Friday Night

(Vendredi Soir)


Friday Night is the story of two strangers who meet and feel some sort of intense personal bond. In the span of one night, they go from meeting for the first time to sharing an intimate moment together, bound together just by their short time together. For director Claire Denis (Beau Travail, Trouble Every Day), this is her second film to hit America that deals less with a plot driven story, and more with images. Both films have very little dialogue, and it is best to watch Friday Night fully awake, else it is liable to put one to sleep.

The entire effect is like a dream. Sadly, it is not as hypnotic as Denis wishes, and is a little more tedious. Laure (Valerie Lemercier, From Behind, Quadrille) is tired after a full day of packing. She is finishing up, and moving in with her boyfriend tomorrow. She's on her way to dinner with some friends, and trapped in a horrendous traffic jam caused by a transportation strike. It's cold outside, and Laure is lonely and bored, so when Jean (Vincent Lindon, Chaos, The Warrior's Brother) asks for a ride, she obliges. He doesn't really say much, and doesn't really have anywhere to go.

The two just sit in the car and stare. That is pretty much the first half of the film. Laure eventually gets a little nervous and the two split for a while, but soon she seeks him out and they are off to a hotel room. Friday Night was written by Emmanuele Bernheim (Swimming Pool, Under the Sand) based on her novel. This is very different from the films she wrote for Francois Ozon, which are much denser. Friday Night, despite what Denis Bernheim wish, has little substance to it. In fact, it feels quite empty at times.

Denis wants the focus squarely on Laure and Jean. The two, simply by sharing time together, share this intimate bond with each other. They don't know a thing about one another (Denis reveals absolutely nothing about Jean) yet feel close because of their minor suffering. In this sense the film almost suffers from being pretentious. Still, Lemercier's performance does speak volumes, despite her lack of dialogue. For her, it is all about her facial and body expressions. As she becomes closer to Jean, her body relaxes more. She is less tense, and more willing to simply reach out and touch him. Also impressive is the love scene, which goes on for quite a while before there is any nudity. Now, when one can say that about a film, is that a good thing?

Mongoose Rates It: Not That Good.
1 hour, 30 minutes, French with English subtitles, Not Rated but contains nudity, sexuality, and some language, an R.

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