By Sherrie Li
By Falling James
By Amanda Lewis
By Amy Nicholson
By Amy Nicholson
By Jennifer Swann
By Scott Foundas
By Sherrie Li
Another such movie, which could very well be gone by the time you are reading this, is Claire Denis’ Friday Night, in which a woman (Valérie Lemercier) heads out to meet friends for dinner, only to find herself ensnared in a city-wide traffic jam caused by one of Paris’ not-infrequent mass-transit strikes. The woman’s apartment is, at present, no more than a series of packed and sealed boxes; tomorrow, she will move in with her boyfriend and start a new chapter in her life. Yet, for a moment, she is free, and so she finds the traffic oddly calming, as though time were — ever so briefly, and solely for her benefit — standing still.
Friday Night is, beguilingly and intoxicatingly, all about such arrested moments between here and there, in which one is thrown off balance and opened up to new, exhilarating stimuli. For this woman, at this time, there is no reason to go any particular place, and even less reason to say no to the stranger (Vincent Lindon) who approaches her car in search of a ride. She does not know this man, who looks like the poster child for rumpled bachelorhood and whose demeanor is docile enough to arouse suspicion. Yet they will spend an entire evening together, and few words will pass between them, for they recognize in each other not simply a shared yearning, but a desire to give words a rest. When morning breaks, they will part, and likely never see each other again.
The Bridges of Madison County redux? Not hardly, but rather a great and simple movie romance in which Denis (who co-wrote the film with novelist and Under the Sand co-scenarist Emmanuelle Bernheim) reduces characters and situations down to their emotional scaffolding, studying people and their environments with the fascinated objectivity of an animal behaviorist. Friday Night is also driven by ravishing visuals, courtesy Denis’ longtime cinematographer Agnes Godard, who shoots in an offhand, unaffected way, yet manages to imbue her images with a kind of weight and texture that movie images rarely have. Watching the film, you don’t just look at Godard’s evening-green streets, with their shaded, orange-lit windows peeking out like sleepy half-eyes; you breathe them in, like air. Beyond which, as in all of Denis’ best work, the movie might mean nothing — or, more likely, anything we want it to.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BED | Directed by EMILIO MARTÍNEZ-LÁZARO | Screenplay by DAVID SERRANO | Produced by TOMÁS CIMADEVELLA, JOSÉ ANTONIO SÁINZ DE VICUÑA | Released by Sundance Channel Film Series | At Loews Beverly Center Cineplex
FRIDAY NIGHT | Directed by CLAIRE DENIS | Screenplay by DENIS and EMMANUELLE BERNHEIM, based on the novel by BERNHEIM Produced by BRUNO PESERY | Released by Wellspring | At Landmark Cecchi Gori Fine Arts
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