On the chilly winter night before leaving her well-appointed apartment to move in with her boyfriend, a woman, Laure, gets stuck in a Parisian traffic jam and, as chance would have it, embarks on a sensual adventure with a stranger, Jean, who seeks sanctuary in her car.
There have been four great traffic jam movies - 8 1/2, Weekend, Falling Down and Songs From The Second Floor. Claire Denis' adaptation of Emmanuèle Bernheim's novel may not be in the same class but, thanks to its supremely controlled depiction of motorised chaos, urban alienation and chance romance, it emerges as a fascinating study in nocturnal ambience and the forgotten art of one-to-one communication.
Using daydreams and subtle asides to hint at Laure's emotions and doubts without revealing details about any other part of her life, this is a film of small movements and gestures, muffled sounds and blurred lights.
There's little dialogue, but there's no real need for it, as Agnès Godard's camera captures every impassive glance and impassioned kiss between Lemercier and Lindon, whether within the confines of her Peugot, a charmless pizzeria or the seedy hotel room where their lovemaking is made all the more tender and erotic by Nelly Quettier's discreet editing. Utterly beguiling.
A deliciously illicit assignation filmed and acted with discretion and insight.