90 minutes| France| 2002| Subtitled| Colour| Dolby Digital Stereo| 35mm

This potent erotic reverie about liberating desire takes off from the unlikely starting point of a Paris traffic jam. As night falls in the wintry city, 30-something Valerie Lemercier has spent the day packing up her flat before moving in with her boyfriend. Streets gridlocked by a transport strike halt her progress, and suddenly she’s sharing her vehicle with taciturn, self-possessed Vincent Lindon and the evening glides towards an out-of-the-way hotel room.

It might sound suspiciously like a crass male sexual fantasy, yet Denis brings a kind of sussed positivism to the story, since it dawns on Lemercier that circumstances might just allow her a moment of secret sexual self-expression before facing the responsibilities of looming coupledom. The dialogue is minimal to a fault, but looks and glances tell us all we need to know when Denis’ pointillist evocation of bustling urban twilight gives way to palpable skin-on-skin tactility.

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