Emmanuelle Bernheim

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Friday Night Review


Excellent
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.

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