(2002)3.5Michael HastingsClaire Denis' languid, surreal romance may be one of the director's more minor efforts, but like the best of her work, it reverberates with the kind of sensuality and emotional truth few filmmakers can match. The plot of Vendredi Soir is the stuff of routine French erotica: a woman, about to move in with her significant other, gets stuck in a Paris traffic jam and takes up with a mysterious pedestrian for the evening. But Denis is no Claude Lelouch. She doesn't insinuate that her two star-crossed lovers are brought together by fate or metaphysics, in fact, rarely does she suggest they have anything in common other than the physical. That said, Vendredi Soir is downright devoted to the physical: the space between two people in a car, at a restaurant table, in bed. Denis avoids conventionally titillating sex scenes, choosing instead to shoot her lovers clothed (for the most part), focusing on hands, positions, and the details of foreplay. The argument can be made that there isn't enough material in Vendredi Soir to fill out an entire feature, but when a filmmaker takes such time and care in chronicling the vicissitudes of day-to-day personal interaction, it's hard to complain.