Friday Night

"Excellent"

Friday Night Review


The sun goes down, and the city lights of Paris slowly rise. The romantic melancholy of a girl's adventure story finds a haunting backdrop in Claire Denis's Friday Night. This follow-up to the ultraviolent vampire horror show Trouble Every Day feels like a contemporary fable, retaining the signature Denis touches of expressionistic images and aching sensuality. Sweet, shy Laure (Valérie Lemercier) is packing up the apartment on her final evening before moving in with her lover. Laure's the very portrait of ambivalence, a sharp twist on the male fear of commitment.

That Laure won't throw away her sexy red dress (saying, "I'll keep you," in one of her affectionate throwaway lines to household objects, clothing, and her beaten-up but friendly car) says she has some vitality in her yet, and hasn't quite finished exploring life's spontaneous opportunities. Going out for the night wearing a trés chic black dress, Laure gets stuck in a massive traffic jam, allowing regular Denis cinematographer Agnes Godard to rove between vehicles picking up details of Parisian life through rain-speckled car windows illuminated and obscured by neon, headlights, and shadows.

Not taking any cues from Jean-Luc Godard's apocalyptic Weekend, Denis handles the patience and boredom of a traffic jam with even handed temperance. As wheels revolve on the wet pavement and cars inch around each other, it's a dance scored to Dickon Hinchcliffe's lush, obsessively angelic score. Like our stand-in Laure, we're comfortably swept into tones of floating, swooning, and awakening.

As the city colors blur into beautiful abstractions, Laure impulsively allows a stranded commuter to ride with her. Robust, quietly assured Jean (Vincent Lindon) becomes her unshaven, average guy version of Prince Charming. She's almost too afraid to continue getting to know this alluring stranger after he gets her away from the traffic using some near-dangerous cab driver instincts. But Friday Night allows her to face those fears, and following the beats of the coffee shop, the hotel room, the restaurant, the sleeping arrangements, and the morning after charts the curiosity, amusement, and desire of consenting adults making the most of their weekend jaunt. Those with a taste for people-watching might identify.

Friday Night feels like a happy dream, taking its time with the hotel room sex scenes and even more with the before and after moods of anticipation and contentment. Denis chooses two actors that possess an everyperson's beauty, not model perfect but attractive the way real people are. With each cigarette Jean smokes and each knowing grin of our heroine Laure, Friday Night endears. It's an inspiring take on the human condition, where everyone's alone and yet they aren't. Denis's characters, key players and bit actors, are brought together in brief encounters during her lingering, spiritual city trek.

At 86 minutes, Friday Night feels slightly padded but never dull. What would have made a brilliant short film clocks in as a charming little featurette. This tone poem, or ode, to grown-up behavior brings out the vibrancy of who we are, and taps into the electricity of what we imagine. Living vicariously through Laure and Jean, it's a heartache and a fantasy that we may have daydreamed. Claire Denis provides a cinematic vision of those fantasies, and Friday Night is slight in the same way fleeting thoughts are--it runs through our imagination quickly, but leaves a pleasing and lasting afterglow.

Reviewed at the 2002 New York Film Festival. Aka Vendredi Soir.

On DVD, Denis offers a commentary with critic Kent Jones -- the questions and answers very roughly translated between French and English.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 90 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 11th September 2002

Distributed by: Wellspring

Production compaines: France Télévision Images

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 79%
Fresh: 42 Rotten: 11

IMDB: 6.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Starring: as Laure, as Jean

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

Murder on the Orient Express Movie Review

The latest adaptation of Agatha Christie's 83-year-old classic whodunit, this lavish, star-studded film is old-style...

Paddington 2 Movie Review

Paddington 2 Movie Review

The first Paddington movie in 2014 is already such a beloved classic that it's hard...

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

A Bad Moms Christmas Movie Review

Everyone's back from last year's undemanding adult comedy, plus some starry new cast members, for...

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Brawl in Cell Block 99 Movie Review

Filmmaker S. Craig Zahler brought a blast of offbeat creativity to the Western genre two...

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

The Death of Stalin Movie Review

Fans of the film In the Loop and the TV series Veep will definitely not...

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Call Me By Your Name Movie Review

Set in northern Italy in the summer of 1983, this internationally flavoured drama is a...

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

Thor: Ragnarok Movie Review

The most riotously enjoyable Marvel movie yet, this action epic benefits hugely from the decision...

Advertisement
Breathe Movie Review

Breathe Movie Review

While this biopic has the standard sumptuous production values of a British period drama, it's...

The Snowman Movie Review

The Snowman Movie Review

With a cast and crew packed with A-list talent, this film seems like it should...

The Party Movie Review

The Party Movie Review

Comedies don't get much darker than this pitch-black British movie, written and directed by Sally...

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) Movie Review

Noah Baumbach (Frances Ha) is on his way to becoming the new Woody Allen, which...

6 Below Movie Review

6 Below Movie Review

Based on an astonishing true survival story, this film is subtitled "Miracle on the Mountain",...

Mother Movie Review

Mother Movie Review

Darren Aronofsky doesn't make fluffy movies, and has only had one genuine misfire (2014's Noah)....

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

Blade Runner 2049 Movie Review

It's been 35 years since Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi classic, which was set in 2019....

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.