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Stranded in the streets of Paris by a traffic jam the night before she is to move in with her boyfriend, a young woman has a passionate all-night encounter with a handsome stranger, in Claire Denis' effervescent, magical-realist romance.
As joyous and effervescent as its immediate predecessor Trouble Every Day was dark and gruesome, Vendredi soir opens with Laure (Valérie Lemercier) packing up her cozy Parisian apartment as she prepares to move in with her boyfriend the following day. Setting out in her car for dinner at a friend's, she finds herself stuck in a traffic jam brought on by a transit strike — but paralysis becomes delightful freedom when she meets a handsome pedestrian (Vincent Lindon) seeking refuge from the cold. Taking inspiration from a novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim, Denis expertly crafts a succession of mostly wordless moments that slowly build up a passionate and intimate tension as these two characters spend the night together; and refreshingly, when the morning comes Laure is confronted not so much with a choice between two men but with the unknown depths of her own happiness. With exquisite cinematography by Agnès Godard and an evocative score by former Tindersticks member Dickon Hinchcliffe, Vendredi soir is "simply the sexiest film ever made about two ordinary people who find each other for one night" (Amy Taubin, Film Comment).