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Vendredi Soir (15)

Review by: Graeme Kay | Rating: Two

Passionately romantic account of a woman's one-night stand with a total stranger.

Laure (Valerie Lemercier) is moving out of her own flat to move in with her lover, Francois. But on the eve of her big move, she becomes trapped in a Paris traffic jam, caused by a strike of public sector workers.

Stuck in her car and listening to the radio to relieve the tedium, Laure hears a woman DJ imploring motorists to pick up pedestrians who may otherwise have to walk home.

After one abortive attempt to recruit a passenger, Laure welcomes Jean (Vincent Lindon) into her car.

Despite being middle-aged and scruffy, Jean has a rough sexuality that Laure is immediately drawn to. And, after initially rejecting Jean's advances, possibly because she is thinking of her boyfriend, she later tracks him down and a night of passion begins.

Directed by Claire Denis (Beau Travail and Trouble Every Day), and based on the novel by Emmanuele Bernheim, Vendredi Soir is a sparsely constructed, but sensual film, driven by the simmering sexual tension between the leading characters.

The dialogue is kept to a minimum, allowing the faces and bodies of Jean and Laure to speak volumes as they indulge themselves fully in the thrill of their illicit liaison.

The intimacy and air of mystery and danger that they are obviously relishing is conveyed through stolen glances and the softly spoken entreaties.

We find out very little about either character's history, but rather than making them remote or unsympathetic, this simply serves to increase the viewer's empathy, the result being that Jean and Laure become vehicles not only for their own fantasies but also those of the audience.

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