Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. France, 2002. Arena Films, Canal+, Centre National de la Cinématographie, France 2 Cinéma, France Télévision Images. Screenplay by Emmanuele Bernheim, Claire Denis, based on the novel by Emmanuele Bernheim. Cinematography by Agnes Godard. Produced by Bruno Pesery. Music by Dickon Hinchliffe. Production Design by Katia Wyszkop. Costume Design by Catherine Leterrier, Judy Shrewsbury. Film Editing by Nelly Quettier. Toronto International Film Festival 2002.
On the night before she is to move in with her long-time partner, Valerie Lemercier (in a beautifully subtle performance) gets stuck in an hours-long traffic jam and offers a strange man (Vincent Lindon) a ride. The enchanting atmosphere of a city in stasis (owing to a transit strike) contributes to a shared evening of driving, dinner, and a hotel room. Forgoing the kind of witty rom-com banter that this experience usually entails in films, director Claire Denis brings her trademark sense of rich ambience and raw sensuality to the proceedings. Her films are so very spare and yet never come off pretentious, and go by extremely quickly for movies that are never “about” anything. It’s marvelous to see that her talents with romance and humour are just as impressive as they were with conformity and brutality in a movie like Beau Travail.