Screened as part of NZIFF 2003

Friday Night 2002

Vendredi soir

Directed by Claire Denis

France In French with English subtitles
90 minutes 35mm



Bruno Pesery


Claire Denis, Emmanuèle Bernheim. Based on the novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim


Agnès Godard


Nelly Quettier


Dickon Hinchliffe


Valèrie Lemercier
Vincent Lindon


Venice, Toronto, New York 2002; Rotterdam, Sydney 2003


Claire Denis’ new film is a finely wrought, minor-key celebration of one night stands and the mixed blessings of big city anonymity. Driving to dinner the night before moving in with her boyfriend, Laure is caught in an interminable traffic jam. Heeding the fatuous voice on her car radio urging drivers to ‘pick up a stranger’, she does so: he’s played by Vincent Lindon, tall, rugged, handsome and, as it turns out, tender. As the encounter develops into intimacy; the film is nicely calibrated around her anxieties and vacillations. We’re also taken explicitly into her imagination while she conjures with introducing her new friend to her dinner hosts and, not so much later, entertains jealous visions of him proving faithless in the washroom of the restaurant where they go for a post-coital dinner. Even the romantic clichés – they close the restaurant – have a self-consciousness that is fitting: they’re touched by Laure’s wariness. We never see or hear her boyfriend, but the sense that she is connected to a world of friends and socially approved relationships is never in doubt. Nor do we learn much at all about the Vincent Lindon character, which may be why some critics seem unduly enraged by the films slightness. It may be a modest work – it culminates in nothing more than a happy little skip and a grin – but it is a lovely and surprisingly complicated act of sympathetic imagination. — BG

"The movie is above all, a sustained swoon of magnified gesture and microscopic detail, kept aloft by Dickon Hinchliffe’s expectant score and the tactile caresses of Agnès Godard’s camera – alive with possibility whether trained on overheating engines, wet asphalt, or the alien landscape of a naked body glimpsed for the first time." — Dennis Lim, Village Voice 

"Unlike Laure, who has a past and a future, sketchy though they may be, Vincent does not exist outside the boundaries of this one-night affair. He’s a perfect male archetype – too perfect to be real – secure in his sexuality, attentive but not needy, experienced but not jaded, an expert seducer who knows that the sexiest thing he can do is manoeuvre a woman into acknowledging her desire. Vincent is the fantasy Laure must abandon herself to and then leave behind in order to commit to the next phase of her life." — Amy Taubin, Film Comment