Battle of the sexes; film review style

So I had to watch a horrible movie for class today called Friday Night (2002) directed by Claire Denis. Our first assignment? Write a review. I banged one out and then, as is customary for me,Wikapediaed and Googled the hell out of that movie.

Here’s the interesting thing: female critics seemed to love it. Stephanie Zacharek of Salon raved: “Claire Denis’ Friday Night is a work of atmospheric intimacy. .. It’s erotic only in the quietest, gentlest way. Clothes aren’t torn off in Friday Night; they’re brushed aside with a whispery rustle to expose a smooth expanse of skin, a clavicle, an anklebone…This is a story about two lovers meeting improbably and fleetingly, but it’s layered with strata of tenderness and deep bliss, as if a lifetime of connection could be packed into just one night.”

Karen Durbin  continued the trend in The New York Times: “Friday Night is a quiet celebration of human waywardness and unpredictability, and because Ms. Denis is so rigorously unsentimental in the way she presents the story, you can’t help celebrating, too.”

Lisa Schwarzbaum says in Entertainment Weekly: “It’s quite a fancier turn-on in Friday Night, a happy, femme-centric, but refreshingly unOxygen-ated mature erotic tale that’s as excited about the texture of a bedspread in a cheap hotel as it is about the activities of the man and woman who embrace in its worn, crimson-colored chenille folds.”

Male critics on the other hand, were not so enamored. Stephen Holden of The New York Times: “As much as the story, based on a novel by Emmanuèle Bernheim, has the irresistible earmarks of the kind of high-toned bodice-ripper at which the French excel, its cinematic realization is oddly gawky and tepid.”

Stephen Hunter of the Washington Post: “A man and a woman. A French man and a woman. Paris. A traffic jam. A hotel room.And that’s about it for “Friday Night,” the very, very French film opening today at the newly renovated Avalon.”

Whoa, quite a difference of opinion there, eh? Of course my research was totally unscientific and there were certainly some women who didn’t like the film (like this one) and some men who did.  But Friday Night is so totally the kind of film middle -class, liberal, white women of a certain age  would identify with, that it’s fascinating to see how much that background plays out in the women’s reviews. An erotic tale with no soft porn, told exclusively from the viewpoint of a middle-aged broad. Given how I react whenever I see black women darker than a sandwich bag acting as something other than comic relief on the big screen, I can respect that thrill of self-identification.

So what does this all mean?

Not much actually. Just that it was a horrible film.

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One Comment on “Battle of the sexes; film review style”

  1. amanahill says:

    Great post, it was quite funny and a great read. I especially like what you said about identifying with a character- especially “Black women darker than a sandwich bag acting as something other than comic relief on the big screen”. There is something about self-identification that makes us want to celebrate, or perhaps it is the fantasy of seeing someone so much like us doing things we could and would never do.


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