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90 minutes · 2013
French director Claire Denis (Beau Travail) has a robust curiosity about interactions between strangers. The primary focus of this feature is a one-night stand involving a woman (Valerie Lemercier) and a man (Vincent Lindon) brought together haphazardly by a huge and menacing traffic jam caused by a Parisian transit strike. But its numerous ancillary characters are so closely observed that even those without speaking parts register as people, in a manner that blurs the line between strangeness and intimacy. The effect bears fruit when the lovers, flushed and happy after sex in a cheap hotel, go out to dinner and observe a loud fight between another couple in the otherwise deserted restaurant. When Lindon excuses himself to use the restroom, Lemercier pictures him taking the other woman over the sink—a chilling illustration of the transience of their own connection. The film could have ended there: we learn little more about the protagonists in its remaining reel, and it ends with a shrug. In French with subtitles.

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