On the evening before she moves in with her boyfriend, a French woman finds herself in a traffic jam on a Paris street and when a calm and self-assured stranger appears, she opens her car door to a man who will change her life.
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When Laure (Valerie Lemercier) leaves her apartment to have dinner with a couple of friends, she unwittingly drives directly into one of the biggest traffic jams that Paris has ever seen. Once there, she is captive to the Paris night and, with nothing else to do, she listens to the radio and lets her imagination run wild.
Claire Denis' FRIDAY NIGHT, a fantasy that follows a woman into a one-night stand, is an adaptation of the popular novel by Emmanuelle Bernheim who also cowrote the story with Denis. Dreamy and confused, the film begins as Laure (Valerie Lemercier) is packing up her Paris apartment and preparing to move. The chaos of this situation leads directly into the next, as Laure gets in her car and begins to drive across town to a dinner party, only to become stuck in a massive traffic jam. As radio reports continue to stress the drastic and unbreakable gridlock that has Paris literally locked in the streets, a rainstorm blurs Laure's vision. Suddenly, a stranger (Vincent Lindon) approaches on foot, and she offers him a ride. But they're not going anywhere, just smoking, and sitting idle. Eventually Laure calls her friends and cancels on the dinner party, leaving her Friday night wide open to follow whatever path it may take. A master at building tension and suspense, Denis creates so much chemistry between Laure and her fantasy man that viewers may await a turn to violence or something shockingly unexpected. However, that nervous and mysterious feeling just builds as the ambiguous story of FRIDAY NIGHT continues and a seemingly banal situation--a traffic jam on a rainy Friday--becomes a magical adventure.